The African Regional Standards Organization (ARSO) has convened a high-level continental standards meeting in Kampala to forge a way for the harmonization of standards on the African continent.
The mandate of ARSO, an arm of the African Union, is to harmonize standards, reduce technical trade barriers and promote intra-Africa and global trade.
Charles Musekura, the Chairperson of Uganda National Standards Council, said the focus of the African Regional Standards Organization meeting in Kampala is to bridge the existing gaps through the harmonization of standards.
He urged experts at the meeting to be mindful that the success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is in their hands. He stated that compliance with quality standards remains one of the major constraints for African products.
David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), said the capacity meeting is aimed at responding to the increasing demand for African Countries to increase the volume of trade among themselves.
Ebiru said UNBS is currently championing the integration of standards at both regional and continental level.
He added that blocs such as the East African Community, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, the Southern African Development Community, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and the Economic Community of West African States are all aspiring to harmonize standards for their priority commodities.
Dr Hermogene Nsengiman, the Secretary General of ARSO, noted ARSO was formed to champion the dream of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
However, this is not happening because of the substandard goods produced and traded on the African market. The meeting heard that improvement of quality of products is vital in growing the Intra-African trade.
Dr Nsengiman lamented that African countries trade more with other countries than among themselves. He said that recent statistics show that trade among African countries is barely 15%.
This increase in trade among African and other countries is attributed to many barriers including quality of products, protectionism, differing standards and mindset.