The West African sub region is demonstrating strong commitment towards improving the standards and quality of goods produced locally to meet international standards.
This is imminent if the single market quest of the ECOWAS sub region must thrive, especially as the region faces the challenge of lack of certified accreditation bodies, to effectively implement quality standards on products produced in the region.
It is in view of this that a capacity building workshop was organised in Abuja, for candidate assessors of the accreditation bodies of the ECOWAS regional Accreditation system (ECORAS) on ISO/IEC 17020 standard.
The 3day workshop organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), commenced Wednesday, with National accreditation representatives from the 15 ECOWAS member states and is geared towards equipping ECOWAS member states with the expertise on ISO IEC 17020 standard on accreditation of inspection bodies.
ECOWAS commissioner for industry and private sector promotion, Mohamodu Toure, said the problem West Africa countries face presently is the absence of specific accreditation bodies to provide quality control services to goods and services in the region.
“We need this expertise in the sub region so as to help the laboratories and accreditation bodies to offer products of good quality and ensure consumer protection”
Also the representative of UNIDO in Nigeria, Aka Kouassi said until recently the competence of conformity assessment bodies could not be envisaged without the support of foreign accreditation bodies because of the absence of such structures in ECOWAS.
“UNIDO supported Nigeria in establishing a national accreditation agency, NINAS and has replicated the project Ghana and in the 8 Francophone countries in the ECOWAS sub region.
“To support the sustainability of this whole system, the WAQSP has supported the commission to set up the ECOWAS Quality Agency (ECOWAQ) that will ensure coherence and the convergence of all quality initiatives in the region”
“The impact in the long run will be to have a unified system where an inspection certificate will be tenable in any West African country irrespective of the country that issued the certificate”.
He said “ECOWAS member states should develop and promote the ECOWAS mark which will serve as standards compliance mark, to enable consumers identify quality products.
“They should have inspection services to curtail the circulation of products unfit for consumption; however their competence must be recognized by accreditation bodies,” he said.