ODUMODU HARPS ON NEED FOR INTER-AFRICAN TRADE

Yemisi Izuora

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The Director General Of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) who is also the current president of African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), Dr. Joseph Ikem Odumodu has observed that African countries have the great potentials for building a robust economic base that will transform the continent into a strong economic hub, but must first ensure that all elements of  economic sabotage are dealt with.

Addressing the media  in Lagos today,  Odumodu said that if Africans could trade with one another, the common enemies of the continent like counterfeiters and purveyors of sub-standard products across the continent would be defeated.

According to him, over 80% of sub-standard products circulating in Africa come from outside the continent, a situation which he described as quite worrisome.

The ARSO President who was speaking against the backdrop of ARSO President’s forum coming up in Abuja, Nigeria next month. The event expected to gather together Chief Executive Officers of National Standards Bodies (NSBs)in Africa, tagged “Africa Rises for Standards in Abuja” holds June 22-24, 2015.’

‘’The event of the ARSO President’s forum for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of National Standards Bodies (NSBs) holding inJune, which is being launched today through this media briefing is meant to sensitise the world on the readiness of African standardisers to strengthen the continental integration by breaking inhibiting economic barriers through standardisation to enhance industrial and economic empowerment”. He added.

Odumodu also stressed that “It is barely six months that I had the opportunity to address this kind of audience. At that time Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2014 World Standards Day – which was the World Press Conference for the 2014 Standards Day Celebration tagged: Standards Ensure Level Playing Field which drew attention to how emerging markets could cue into the global market using standards. This has been the core commitment of SON since my assumption of office.

ARSO according to him is an inter-governmental body, established by the Organisation for African Union (OAU) in 1977 with support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), to primarily coordinate the issues of standardisation amongst all National Standards Bodies (NSBs) in Africa in order to promote:

• The harmonisation of African Standards and Conformity Assessment Systems
• Promote competitiveness of African goods and services by removing all technical Barriers to trade
• Provide a basis for value addition on African oriented raw materials, to promote industrialisation of Africa
• Promote self-sustainability for the continent through intra-African trade
• Represent the continent in global issues of standardisation
He said hosting the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of National Standards Bodies (NSBs) in Africa, through the ARSO President’s Forum calls for celebration, as a milestone in the history of ARSO in particular and Africa in general, as its outcome will fulfil the dreams of the founding fathers of the African Union (AU) and by extension, the ARSO. This first of its kind event, also fulfils a long desire by Africa to take its future and development in its hands.

He added that the Abuja Forum will amongst other expectations bring about the strengthening of the standardisation capacities of Africa through dialogues, information and experience sharing, which will form the key elements required to promote and sustain Africa’s productivity and trade.

He further said that ARSO, seeks to integrate the whole of Africa through standardisation to empower the continent to look within itself for sustenance, adding that standardisation is capable of breaking borders and barriers inhibiting trade and development. The Giant strides being recorded by some countries and Regional Economic Blocks in exports to other continents are noted and laudable but could be better without the current intra-continental barriers which have continued to remain stumbling blocks even with neighbours.

He implored industrialists, traders, service providers and development partners to help SON by sponsoring the Abuja forum which he said is expected to cost over One Hundred Million Naira. The ARSO President’s forum, according to the Chairman of the organising committee who is a Director in SON, Dr. Paul Angya, is indeed a major continental project that will bring together all experts and heads of standards bodies across the world to come and cross-fertilise ideas.

Part of the programme would be made in Africa Expo where exhibitors who would participate in African Expo coming up in Cairo, Egypt would be selected.

The pre-ARSO Stakeholders/Media Launch in Lagos was attended by representatives of government agencies, businessmen, industrialists, development partners as well chieftains of security organisations.

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