ZIMBABWE is set to host the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) presidents’ forum in Victoria Falls next month with the main objective of the indaba being to facilitate intra-African trade and economic development.
The conference which will run from March 1 to 4 at a hotel in the resort town, is expected to create opportunity to review ARSO programmes and membership mobilisation.
The indaba is expected to propel the main mandate of ARSO, which is facilitating intra-African trade and economic development and using standardisation as a tool for enabling Africa’s industrialisation, transformation and integration through increased manufacturing, value addition and innovation.
The main objectives of the conference are to rally African stakeholders to appreciate the need for promoting “Made in Africa” products as a foundation for greater manufacturing and industrialisation and as a basis for boosting intra-African trade as well as highlighting the role of standardisation as a perquisite for quality and safe products and their acceptance in the local market.
The indaba also seeks to sensitise local manufacturers, traders, producers and consumers in Zimbabwe on the importance of local products as a base for industrialisation, highlight the role of ARSO beyond 2017 as well as review ARSO membership and strategies for engaging members and non-members alike for membership mobilisation.
Non-active members in terms of subscriptions include Benin, Congo Brazzaville, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Seychelles, Swaziland, South Sudan and Togo.
Non-members include Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Morocco, Mozambique and Somalia.
Collaboration with key partners in quality infrastructure operating on the African continent is also essential.
To create awareness on industrialisation challenges in Africa, ARSO has initiated the Made in Africa Expo to be held alongside the celebrations of the African Day of Standardisation.
The concept of the Made in Africa Expo is premised on the notion that in Africa, a plague of barriers continues to outweigh its potential for industrialisation as the manufacturing sector in most countries remains small, contributing an average of only around 10 percent in gross domestic product, even with the capacities of labour and raw materials.
The Made in Africa Expo is being held to raise awareness on the importance of local industries and products in Africa’s path to the industrialisation and integration agenda.
The Expo is expected to bring to the fore the products and manufacturing capabilities of African companies and the potential for trade linkages within the continent.
It is believed this can help ensure alternative and potentially affordable sources of supply and trade instead of extra-African sources.
The Expo is also an opportunity to explore the standards-related barriers that African companies face in specific contexts and how standards and conformity assessment can serve to eliminate the barriers.
It is an opportunity for African consumers to assess the quality of African products and influence their preferences to buying “Made in Africa” products as a priority.
The Made in Africa Expo is also a platform to assess the possibilities of joint manufacturing and production to foster the economies of scale and specialisation among enterprises in Africa.
This can be particularly useful for companies processing or manufacturing products at different levels or producing parts for integration while also creating opportunity for market access due to formation of familiarity on standards and techniques used by manufacturers from other African countries.