DAKAR, 01 February - The first Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Quality Infrastructure Forum (ECOQUAF) was organized from 29 January to 1 February in Dakar, Senegal, within the framework of the West Africa Quality System Program (WAQSP). The WAQSP is funded by the European Union and executed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
During the Forum, the ECOWAS Commission held the first meeting of the Community Council for Quality (CCQ) and the Constitutive General Assembly (GA) of the Regional Agency for Quality (ECOWAQ). The GA elected Kalilou Traore as chair of the board and Essohouna Germain Meba as vice chair. Now, all ECOWAS quality structures dealing with standardization, metrology, conformity assessment, technical regulation and accreditation are in place. The CCQ will regularly define the strategic orientations in each of these technical areas; ECOWAQ, as executive secretary of the CCQ, is in charge of implementing these orientations. Ultimately, the structures will support the development of intra-regional and international trade, also allowing the availability of safe and healthy products and services in the market, for the benefit of the West African Consumers. UNIDO, a key partner of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and ECOWAS Commissions in the field of Quality Infrastructure (QI), provided the technical assistance needed to achieve these results.
The ECOQUAF Forum also reflected on ways and means to ensure the sustainability of these regional structures, as well as country quality infrastructure structures, in particular through panels on national quality policies’ development, the financing of quality infrastructure, challenges of each technical field and quality promotion. The opportunity was given to national and sub-regional companies and organizations to showcase their achievements and know-how in the field of quality during the Forum's exhibition.
The ECOQUAF opening ceremony was chaired by the Prime Minister of Senegal, Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, in the presence of the Senegal Ministry of Industry, Moustapha Diop, ECOWAS Commissioner of Industry and Private Sector Promotion, Kalilou Traore, the Representative of the European Union Delegation in Senegal, Clemens Schroeter, and the representative of UNIDO’s Director General, Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento.
Dionne welcomed the finalization of the establishment of regional quality structures in the ECOWAS region five years after the adoption by the Heads of State of the Community Quality Policy in February 2013. He paid tribute to UNIDO, one of the main masterminds of QI development in Senegal and in West Africa.
Traore reiterated his gratitude to the European Union and UNIDO, long-standing partners of ECOWAS in building regional QI. Schroeter welcomed the Forum and reiterated the European Union’s continued support, particularly for value chains programmes to be financed under the 11th European Development Fund. Calzadilla-Sarmiento recalled that the development of the ECOWAS QI falls within both UNIDO's mandate to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) and in Sustainable Development Goal 9, which calls for "Building a resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and encouraging innovation."
The ECOQUAF also recorded the presence of UEMOA Commission representatives, ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania ministers’ representatives in charge of industry, the ECOWAS regional Private Sector (FOPAO/FEWACCI), specialized institutions in the field of quality, financial institutions, companies, consumer associations, and non-governmental organizations. Several other activities were held during the forum, including the presentation of the electronic directory of accredited conformity assessment bodies, the awarding of the Senegal Quality Award, the awarding of distinctions to the first five accredited product-certification bodies within the region and WAQSP steering committee meetings.
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