African bureau of standards have been urged to harmonise sub-regional standards to reduce costs, among other things.
With harmonised standards, consumers will use safer, higher-quality and more environmentally-friendly products which have African origin and taste, according to an article published on the Trade and Law Centre (Tralac) website.
Addressing the 47th African Regional Organisation for Standardisation (Arso) Council Members in Arusha, Tanzania, last week, permanent secretary in that countryâ€™s Ministry of Industry and Trade, Joyce Mapunjo, said â€œhaving different standards for different markets would mean companies must create variations in their products to comply with those standardsâ€ which she described as costly.
Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) director general, Davlin Chokazinga, agreed that harmonisation of standards can facilitate exports as products will no longer be subjected to more tests.
â€œIn the absence of harmonised standards, products are tested for standards twice. If, for example, a Malawian trader exports maize to Kenya, we test the maize here and it is also tested for quality in the importing country.
â€œIn this case, the costs of testing are passed on to the importer. But if standards are harmonised, there will be no need for more tests,â€ he said.
Chokazinga said Malawi sells maize, beans, rice, wheat flour and other products to Tanzania, Kenya and other countries.
Arso vice-president Dr Joseph Ikemefuna Odumodu has since called upon African bureau of standards to harmonise standards as a tool for regional intra and inter trade and improved industrialisation by leveraging resources, education and technology.
He said a unified Africa through a continental quality infrastructure system is needed now more than ever.
â€œIn Africa, we have a fundamental challenge of unifying Africa towards a sustainable economy through provision of harmonised standards as a tool for intra and inter African trade.
â€œIt is indicated that Africa, when unified, its economy could grow considerably and become an economical power in 2030. This cannot be achieved without a harmonised standardisation system,â€ said Odumodu.
Reports indicate that intra African trade is still less than 10 percent and in most cases due to the non-technical barriers to trade (TBT).