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ARSO Leaders Meet To Boost Inter-African Trade

The African Organisation of Standardisation (ARSO) said yesterday that the prime objective of its Presidents’ Forum slated for Abuja June 22 -24, 2015 is to remove the restrictions to trade among African countries placed by the differences in the standards governing trade in the different countries.

The Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and president of the ARSO, Dr Joseph Ikem Odumodu said this while speaking to newsmen in his office in Abuja.

He said: “Every organism prospers by utilizing the material which every part supplies.

But hardly does Africa draw strength from the trade the different countries in the continent engage in because, separated by standards, the countries hardly trade among themselves.

Now, ARSO President’s Forum Abuja 2015 is bringing fifty-five heads of national standards bodies (NSB) in Africa together to open the gates of harmonization of standards and let goods and services flow smoothly across the continent.” Emphasizing the trade facilitation bias of the event, Dr Odumodu said that industrialists will sit together with the fifty-five national standards bodies CEOs at a roundtable to share insights and challenges as standardisation stakeholders. According to the Africa number one standards chief, “sitting at a roundtable with the fifty-five NSB CEOs is a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand their business to other African countries.”

He continued: “By participating in the ARSO president’s Forum, companies are automatically at the gates of fiftyfive African countries and are a step to the 1.1 billion consumers in the continent. Imagine when they now establish relationships with the NSB CEOs.” Dr Odumodu explained that “the NSB CEOs are high-level   decision makers for their countries’ trade policy and standards implementation.” Still on the trade connection of the Forum, the ARSO president said that a trade fair tagged Made in Africa Expo will run for the three days of the event alongside the other activities of the event.

He said that “the fair is open to any product whether certified or not because the emphasis is on showcasing the potentials of all SMEs and cottage industries and projecting made in Nigeria products to the nations of Africa.”

He added that ten of the best exhibiting SMEs would be selected by a distinguished international panel to compete in the Made in Africa Products Fair to be held in Egypt later in the year. He further said that ten of the best exhibiting SMEs would be considered for free certification. Clarifying on the programme of the ARSO Presidents Forum, Dr Odumodu said that the forum features African Day of Standardisation seminar in addition to the CEOs Roundtable and the Made in Africa Expo.

The theme of the seminar this year is “the Role of Standards in Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.” Participants expected at the forum include manufacturers, service providers, medium and small scale enterprises, investors and representatives of government ministries, departments and agencies.

The International Conference Centre, Abuja is the venue of the Forum. The ARSO Presidents Forum is the aftermath of the 20th ARSO General Assembly endorsement of a proposal for the ARSO President to convene a special forum of NSB chief executives and engage them on ARSO standardisation programmes to make Africa one market. The ARSO 20th Assembly took place in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2014.

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