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FG renews commitment to standards to boost AfCFTA implementation

by Business News Report

Nigeria is hosting the 30th General Assembly of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), with calls for prioritising quality education to equip the youth with skills for the 4th industrial revolution and drive the continent’s economic integration agenda. Declaring the 5-day summit open in Abuja, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite stressed that standardisation is pivotal for promoting sustainable development, innovation and boosting intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). “Standards shape our everyday lives, drive economic efficiency, facilitate trade and are the fulcrum for transitioning towards a more sustainable and resilient development model,” Uzoka-Anite said.

With this year’s theme ”Educating an African Fit for the 21st Century – Building a Quality Culture, One Market, One Standard”, the Minister noted the interdependence between education, industrialisation, trade and standardisation. She urged African nations to focus on developing relevant curricula and skills for youth and Small and Medium Enterprises to unlock opportunities presented by the 4th industrial revolution and the AfCFTA integrated market. The AfCFTA, ratified by 35 African nations, is projected to stimulate intra-African trade by up to $35 billion annually, boost agricultural and industrial exports, spur economic growth and potentially lift millions out of poverty. However, the Minister warned that this potential can only be harnessed through harmonised regulatory frameworks anchored on common standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment systems across the continent.

“Nigeria remains resolute in our commitment to ARSO’s mandate of harmonising standards to facilitate Africa’s economic integration through the AfCFTA,” she affirmed. In his welcome address, the Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Ifeanyi Okeke echoed the imperative of standardisation for creating a quality culture and unified continental market. Standardisation ensures our products and services meet international benchmarks, enhances competitiveness and facilitates trade…This vision of ‘One Market, One Standard’ is integral to the AfCFTA’s aspirations,” Okeke stated. He urged delegates to seize the opportunity to re-commit to the Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025, and address educational deficits hindering Africa’s progress through innovative policies and application of technology.

The high-level summit, drawing over 500 delegates from across Africa, will review ARSO’s strategic plans, technical committee works and initiatives to promote standardisation education and accredited quality infrastructure. Nigeria played a key role in establishing ARSO in 1977, with late Dr. Adedeji Adebayo, then UN Economic Commission for Africa Secretary General, championing the process.

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