African Union launches new pan-African labelling and certification system

AFRICA – The African Organization for Standardization (ARSO), an African Union (AU) unit is set to introduce a new pan-African labelling and certification system to enhance access to international and regional markets for African Producers.

The Eco Mark Africa (EMA) will be the continent’s first commonly accepted standard for goods that seeks to promote the production and marketing of safe, green goods and services internationally.

ARSO Secretary-General Hermogene Nsengimana said all businesses, including hotels, food production systems and markets will be required to be certified by the standards body.

“This will be done through the national standardisation bodies of respective countries.

There is a huge demand from consumers; people are getting wind of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the need to consume safe products. Internationally, there is a request especially in the Caribbean and South America to benchmark with this standard,” Dr Nsengimana noted.

Speaking during the launch of the label, Eve Gadzikwa, President ARSO, highlighted that the new mark of quality will strengthen the Continental Free Trade Area which is expected to significantly boost Africa’s position in international trade.

“The African certification system comes when the branding and positioning of African goods and services is very weak, but with the coming of EMA, our goods will soon be labelled and positioned accordingly.

From a practical sense, this marker will present products in a wider global market where it will be accepted as the Eco-marker is a confirmation of vigorous checks on acquired goods through our certification body,” said Dr Gadzikwa.

She said the new system also allows goods and services coming into the continent to be screened and certified as a measure to reduce counterfeit, substandard and dangerous goods that have plagued the continent for years.

The certification issued to producers is expected to improve transparency on the origin of products to go along with the disclosure of the environmental and social conditions of production in Africa.

According to report by Citizen Kenya through its standardization body, the Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KEBS), has already signed on to the voluntary amplitude.

The Standards Association of Zimbabwe is the second standard body to be signed on to the audit whose label is currently being piloted in 8 other African states which includes Cameroon, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia.

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