The Africa Organisation for Standards (Arso) is urging its members to set up more testing facilities to help certify products, as it moves to harmonise standards on the continent.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
This comes as the major theme for Arso in 2017 is to promote Africa- made products and shift trade that is heavily skewed in favour of the developed world to the continent.
Speaking at a press briefing of the upcoming second edition of the Arso President’s Forum and Made in Africa Expo, the organisation’s president, Eve Gadzikwa said testing facilities would allow African-made goods to compete on the market.
The forum will be held from March 1 to 4 in Victoria Falls.
“One of the objectives of Arso is to harmonise standards so that Africa can increase its amount of trade. The biggest challenge has been the technical barriers of trade. So it is important for Africa to have these testing capabilities,” Gadzikwa, also the director general of the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), said.
“Some of the measures that have been put in place by Arso were to encourage the development of more testing facilities. This also includes making sure that any product that would have not met basic standards does not come back onto the market.”
She said funding for their actions would come from membership fees of its 36 members, the European Union and European standards bodies across Europe.
The establishment of testing facilities is to prevent a loss of faith from the source market of a product in terms of trade.
Last year, Zambia’s standards bureau had to pull out the Lyons’ peanut butter product from their market as it was found with high levels of aflatoxins, which are harmful to people.
SAZ was later called in to examine the product, and confirmed the existence of higher levels of aflatoxins.
Lyon’s is a subsidiary of Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited.
Gadzikwa said testing facilities were critical in the promotion of locally-made products on the continent, as it was now a “supermarket for the developed world”.
“One of the objectives of the Arso President’s Forum and expo is to rally African stakeholders to appreciate the need for promoting the ‘Made in Africa’ products as a foundation for greater manufacturing, industrialisation and boost intra-African trade,” she said.
The upcoming Arso President’s Forum and Made in Africa Expo is expected to be attended from stakeholders across the continent.
The president of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim will be one of the guest speakers at the event, which will be hosted for the first time in Zimbabwe by virtue of Gadzikwa being the Arso president.