By Yunus S Saliu
The meeting of experts and industry Ministers from ECOWAS member States for the validation of Regional Standards, Technical Regulations for lead in paint ECOSHAM reviewed the document and draft directive for the automotive industry policy framework, on Monday, 27th March 2023 kicked off in Banjul.
The meeting currently at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, Bijilo is held from 27th to 30th March 2023 and it brought together various officials from the ECOWAS member States to review and draft directives for the automotive industry policy framework.
Among officials who delivered speeches at the opening of the validation meeting include Lassane Kabore, ECOWAS Director of Industry; Salifou Issoufou, representative of UEMOA; Kamara Mehefolo, representative of UNIDO; Omar Badjie Director of Industry – Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment The Gambia and Marcelo Nabiutcha Director of Industry Guinea Bissau.
In his welcome statement, Omar Badjie, Director of Industry at MoTIE, The Gambia expressed appreciation to ECOWAS for choosing The Gambia to host this important meeting which he described as a significant gesture of solidarity.
He noted that the meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for participating members to interact and consult on issues of the day and decide on common positions “for our Ministers to adopt on the 30th March.”
Mr. Badjie reiterated that the meeting will review and validate several documents for the development of standards for off-grid solar products and PV mini-grid and revision of ECOSHAM document as well as regional harmonization of Standards on THC 01 Agro-products, THC 02 Food Products, THC 03 Chemical Products and THC 09 Informational, Communication Technology.
Also, “the regulation of Lead in Paint and the directives of the automotive industry, this by no means is a small task,” he, therefore, encouraged all to critically review the documents with the primary objective of making ECOWAS, especially member states up to speed with the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, he noted that these standards are catalytically for the economic growth of the ECOWAS region and will give a sound foundation for the incoming AfCFTA, adding “there is already a lot of momentum for change within ECOWAS and its member states in preparation of AFCFTA and we must ensure that advancing the development agenda remains at the forefront of the debates and decisions to be undertaken.”
In a brief interview, Engineer Yahya Ahmed Bukar, Chairman of the Technical Committee of ECOWAS also Director of Standard for Standard Organization of Nigeria indicated that the validated standards for renewable energy were done by the technical committee to present to the experts.
“The experts,” he noted, “we look at it critically and as well validate it and present it before the Ministers for consideration.”
Talking about regional integration, he said it is about the facilitation of trade, and “if these standards are validated and adopted by all the member countries and implemented there will be a facilitation of trade within the sub-region .”
For implementation, ECOWAS Commission needs to do more sensitization they cannot continue to spend funds bringing people to harmonize standards at the end of the day they are not implemented. “There are major aims for establishing ECOCHAM and the aim is to ensure the facilitation of trade within the ECOWAS sub-region so that it can improve our economy and provide more employment for the people.”