By Juldeh Njie
just back from Abidjan

The chief technical advisor of the West Africa Quality System Programme, (WAQSP) has said that ECOWAS is set to roll out the Ecomark certification on goods and services effective February.
Aka Jean Joseph Kouassi made these revelations at the just concluded two –day capacity building training of journalists on ECOWAS quality infrastructure and the WAQSP results held in Abidjan, Cote d’voire.
“We have developed regional standard and one of the ways to prove that products are conformed to regional standard is to develop a certification mark. The mark will be implemented not by the regional certification body but by the national certification bodies mandated by ECOWAS to deliver a certification mark at national level”, he said.

Mr Kouassi said the certification mark will be recognised in all the sixteen countries of ECOWAS adding that they may have a certification service in each country mandated to regulate the issue of certification in the country.
He said it is therefore important for countries to develop their capacities so that they will be recognised at the regional level to deliver the ECOWAS certification mark.
He also revealed that citizens of the Ecowas who want their products to be sold in the international market, will have to go to the national certification body in their country.
He added: “The national certification body of each country will then carry on with their investigation example, collect the product and send it to the laboratory to make their analysis and checkings on the system used in manufacturing the product. Then there will be a committee that will decide whether to issue a certification mark or not”.

Mr Aka went on to reveal that once a product has been certified it will then be allowed to be sold in the international market because it would have been well tested and recognized to be of high quality. Asked whether the certificate is free, he replied: “No it is not free because it is a mark which can give you the opportunity to be recognised in the global market”.

Mr Aka said the life span of the certificateis three years which is renewable provided the entrepreneur kept the same standard requirements which would be proven by further testings by the certification body.
He said all the ECOWAS member countries can be part of the scheme but each country will have to have a certification body which is mandated by ECOWAS.
He continued: “Citizens of countries which don’t have a certification body, will be obliged to go to another country which has one “.

He went to say that the mark will be seen in some products within three months but they are working on setting up rules to avoid abuse of the mark.
Mr Aka said the certification mark will only be mandatory to member states if the standard is mandatory.


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