Expert calls for harmonised pre-shipment inspection scheme

African states have been urged to embrace a harmonized Products Conformity Assessment to Standards (IPCA) scheme to boost intra-regional trade.

African states have been urged to embrace a harmonized Products Conformity Assessment to Standards (IPCA) scheme to boost intra-regional trade.

Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, the Secretary General for African Organisation for Standardization (ARSO) said Africa cannot achieve macro-economic growth without harmonized standards including IPCA.

Nsengimana, said government must move fast enough to harmonize standards and have the scheme implemented to facilitate cross border trade on the continent.

He was speaking during a one day workshop on standardization and trade regulation policies in Africa held in Kigali on Wednesday.

He said even with more than 800 harmonized standards on African continent, implementation is still a challenge for most states which has affected intra-regional trade.

“We are therefore urging states to expedite the implementation process through coordinated collaboration to facilitate trade,” he noted.

Last month, ARSO member states signed an agreement establishing cooperation in the field of standardization and Quality on the basis of International principles and regulations.

Members committed to ensuring that their standardization programmes and activities facilitate regional and international trade.

Caroline Outa Ogwena, the ARSO chairperson, emphasized the need for mutual recognition and collaboration to make the process of pre inspection shipment more easy.

Meanwhile, Antoinette Mbabazi, the National Certification Manager, at Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) said product Conformity Assessment scheme is key to ensuring quality along value chain.

The standards watchdog last month said it had suspended a decision by government to contract private firms to carry-out pre-shipment inspection for goods destined to Rwanda.

Philip Nzaire, the RSB quality assurance director, said at the time that the scheme was phased out “majorly on grounds of liability adding that RSB will conduct the inspections itself in what it calls “destination inspection” at points of entry.

“The selected inspection firms never wanted to take responsibility in case cleared goods were later found to be sub-standard on further scrutiny by RSB and instead wanted importers to be accountable for such cases,” he noted.

He said the body insisted on stringent terms for inspectors to protect consumers and prevent dumping, adding that they had no choice but to suspend the pre-shipment inspection scheme when the differences could not be reconciled.

He added that the firms had also sought to remit only 18 per cent of the total revenue collected for every cleared consignment and pocket 82 per cent, which “would translate into loss of revenue on the part of government.


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