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    June 1, 2023

    Planning of pan-African framework for technical regulations



    Africa’s current population of about 1.3 bill is shared between 55 nations with populations.
    varying between Nigeria’s 220 mill and Seychelles’ 100,000.
    In 2013, the Pan African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI) was established with the objective to ensure satisfactory quality and safety of products, services, protection of the environment and health as well as improved trade performance within the African region. It comprises standards, measurement, testing, conformity assessment and accreditation. Amongst the founders was the African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC).However, manufacturers and traders now struggle to comply with divergent requirements. It is realized that increased cooperation between countries is needed in order to harmonize technical regulations and facilitate increased free trade.

    A concept paper concerning an African technical regulatory framework (ACTReF) has recently been prepared to
    provide an overview of the different approaches to technical regulation across Africa, and also to review the options and possible routes that can be followed in establishing a continental framework for technical regulations. This is considered important for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

    The ACTReF is conceived as a system that establishes how technical regulations are developed and enforced in order to avoid unnecessary obstacles to trade by being consistent with the requirements of the international WTO-TBT Agreement.

    It can build on the existing strong regional trade agreements, so called REC (Regional Economic Cooperation).
    The African Union recognizes 8 RECs, including WAEMU and ECOWAS in West Africa and SADC in Southern

    The AfCFTA shall provide opportunity to have a holistic look at intra-African trade and deal with the regulatory
    constraints at the level of the continent.
    The principles upon which the ACTReF are planned to be built are also those of the WTO and the EU.

    Several regulatory approaches are proposed for ACTReF, including several levels of harmonization and mutual recognition. These are not all mutually exclusive, so the ACTReF should come up with a balanced set of approaches to apply in Africa, (which will be part of another phase of the project).

    The concept paper is available in full at this link.

    (Article is based on the info provided by AFSEC and edited by T.Sollie)

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