European markets do not have confidence in our products-Ecowas


By Juldeh Njie Just back from Abidjan Chief Technical Advisor of the West Africa Quality System Program, (WAQSP) of Ecowas, Aka Jean Joseph Kouassi, said confidence in products exported from the region to European markets is “extremely low”. He said a total of only 24 notifications were issued on products exported from the Ecowas region in two years, between June 2016 and October 2018. According to him, it received the notifications from international bodies such as EU and the UN Industrial Development Organisation, (UNIDO) questioning the level of quality of the products that include agricultural products such as cocoa, beans, chemical products, body creams, and building and construction materials. Speaking in a Standard exclusive on the sidelines of a recently held two-day seminar for journalists in Abidjan on a new policy intended to ensure high quality of products, Mr Kouassi said the trend is hindering trade growth in the region. “If we want to export to abroad for example, they want to be sure that our products have the level of quality in their market. And they will say that products coming from Africa are of poor quality, they don’t have confidence in our products,” he said. However, Kouassi accepts that the issue of quality remains a challenge among African countries, and is linked to the African’s attitude towards work, food, and even products they buy. He was quick to add that the menace can be resolved if Africa create strong institutions, standard organisations metrology and special institutions and laboratories which are well equipped and recognised internationally. “…But all these systems are very weak in our countries and most of the times governments doesn’t invest more money and resources in these infrastructures. This has contributed to African’s underdevelopment”, he said. Mr Kouassi said at regional level, they were synergising efforts to tackling the issue, and have set up a regional quality program aimed at implementing the Ecowas regional quality policy to supporting countries so that member states can adopt it to their own quality policies. Kouassi called on member countries to continue what have been started at the regional level by implementing the national quality policy. He noted: “At regional level we setup regional institutions in each of the national domain but at national level, the government have to setup same corresponding institutions to continue what has been started at regional level. “So we have put in place all these systems in place to prove to them (Europeans) that we have the same quality products as theirs. We also have to protect consumers and so we will ensure this system is implemented in all countries so that our continent will not be considered as where you can come and throw waste products.” He said African countries be vigilant and check any product that is imported or exported into their country is of good quality or not. The chief technical adviser also charged the countries to intensify education and sensitisation efforts to create awareness and sensitise citizens and stakeholders on the need for quality. The West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) is being funded by the European Union with at least 12 million euros. The overall objective is to making these countries cognizant of quality in national development. It is also to enable consumers identify what products are substandard and demand for quality when purchasing the products. To this end the organisation has established a regional quality policy to facilitate trade within the region. Plans to establish the policy WAQSP began in 2015 when the organisation received several reports on substandard goods from the region.]]>