Nigeria and other West African Countries have just received a boost of €1 billion from the European Union (EU) to make their products more attractive to foreign markets like Europe and America.

This arrangement was broughtto the fore by Frank Okafor, EU Project Manager for the West Africa Quality Systems Programme (WAQSP) while the steering committee expected to pilot the project met in Abuja to evaluate the readiness of West African countries to exploit the opportunity. 

The Details: The project is being supervised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). It is in tandem with UNIDO’s mandate which is expected to promote and accelerate the inclusive and sustainable industrial development of developing countries and economies in transition.

According to the Director-General of UNIDO, Li Yong, who was represented by the Project Officer in charge of the WAQSP, Bernard Bau, the implementation of the ECOWAS Quality-ECOQUAL adopted in 2013 would strengthen regional growth and quality assurance that will complement the existing national quality infrastructure. He also said that it would enable companies to increase their competitiveness and ensure conformity with international standards at a reasonable cost.

“We have taken it from a very short perspective. But I think what counts here is the overall result. From last year, we have made big progress. We have held very critical regional training and workshops on different important topics such as consumer protection and public procurement guidelines to integrate quality requirements. We are also working on curricula for universities.”

The UNIDO boss hinted that a few countries were yet to adopt the quality certification process in their national policies.

“Now, we are accrediting 19 conformity assessment bodies in the region, four of which are certification entities. We have also developed a quality certification mandate for ECOWAS. Some countries so far have also adopted their national quality policies.”

What you should know: The European Union’s support is expected to promote and unify trade between ECOWAS and world markets. Before getting to this level, this contribution had been on for 17 years, including EU’s coordinated efforts with development partners as Okafor noted. Nevertheless, Nigeria and one other country are the only countries yet to get certification for the project after all other Francophone and Anglophone nations, have got theirs.