African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) and Its Role in Shaping Standards

Overview of ARSO

The African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) is an intergovernmental standards body established in 1977. It was formed through collaboration between the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). ARSO’s primary mandate is to harmonize African Standards, Conformity Assessment, and Procedures. By doing so, ARSO aims to achieve several critical objectives:

  1. Reducing Technical Barriers to Trade: Harmonized standards facilitate smoother trade within Africa and with international partners.
  2. Promoting Intra-African and International Trade: Consistent standards enhance market access and competitiveness.
  3. Enhancing Industrialization Across Africa: Standardization contributes to economic growth and sustainable development.

Membership and Harmonized Standards

As of January 2024, ARSO has 43 member countries in Africa, making it a significant regional organization dedicated to standardization. The organization has successfully harmonized 1869 African Regional Standards (ARS) across various sectors, including Testing and Inspections. These harmonized standards play a crucial role in ensuring product quality, safety, and interoperability within the African market.

Technical Committees and Working Groups

ARSO operates through 87 Technical Committees (TCs) and Special Working Groups. These committees focus on specific domains, including Testing and Inspections. Since July 2012, ARSO has convened over 400 technical committee and working group meetings, emphasizing collaboration and expertise exchange

ARSO Certification System (ARSO-CERT)

The ARSO Certification System (ARSO-CERT) is a third-party certification system designed for application at the regional level in Africa. It collaborates with member states and is based on African Regional Standards (ARS) or technically equivalent standards. ARSO-CERT aims to enhance quality assurance and conformity assessment processes, including those related to Testing and Inspections.

Aligning with SONCAP: ASC-Africa’s Online Platform

The development of an online platform tailored for the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) by ASC-Africa aligns with ARSO’s framework. Let’s explore how:

  1. Conformity Assessment: SONCAP ensures that imported products comply with Nigerian standards. ARSO’s mandate includes harmonizing conformity assessment procedures, making it relevant to SONCAP’s goals.
  2. Trade Facilitation: ASC-Africa’s streamlined certification processes through an online platform contribute to trade facilitation. This aligns with ARSO’s mission of promoting intra-African and international trade.
  3. Quality Assurance: ASC-Africa’s platform focuses on product quality and compliance, resonating with ARSO’s commitment to harmonizing standards and improving industrialization in Africa.
  4. Digital Transformation: ASC-Africa’s embrace of digitization reflects ARSO’s recognition of the importance of technology and emerging trends in standards development.

Collaboration and Impact

ASC-Africa’s initiative demonstrates collaboration between private sector entities (such as ASC-Africa) and intergovernmental organizations (like ARSO). By enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of SONCAP, this collaboration contributes to Africa’s economic growth and welfare

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