By Victoria Ojeme
ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, Mr. Mamadou Traore yesterday disclosed that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has concluded plans to certify products made in the region to be competitive and meet international standards.
This, it hopes to accomplish, through the extension of support grant of Euro 121million to investors/member states by way of training and provision of the necessary equipment to aid the process.
Traore made the disclosure at the ongoing 2nd 2020 Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament held virtually from Abuja.
He said, “We need to produce competitive products. There will be certification, to make them safe, usable and tested in laboratories. We are going to support countries through training and equipment. We need to give information to general public”,
He also advised the ECOWAS Council of Ministers to ensure that borders should be opened based on solid technical advice and not purely on political exigencies. This is coming against his disclosure that the ECOWAS Ministers of Transportation have been meeting to discuss the rationale and modalities for easing and opening of borders across the region.
With regard to the standardization of COVID-19 protocol items such as face masks, hand sanitizer, etc, he said that the Council of Ministers will soon adopt standards based on the standards received from the International Standards Organisation (ISO), the European Union, France and the United States.
“Some countries in the region are already using standardized ones. You must have the right dimensions, colourings, textiles, these indicators are already there. By the time it is validated, ownership to it becomes automatic”.
According to him, “most of our countries import over 85% of their health needs from India, China, Europe, US and this is a challenge. A lot of initiatives have been taken in the region and the COWAS through the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) is working with investors to produce indigenous products for us in the region”.
On the issue of traditional herbs/medicine for COVID-19, he said that WAHO, a specialized agency of the Commission is handling the matter. He said: “This is a Research & Development matter, having access to the market is a long process, there are should be laboratory tests, real-time tests, it takes investments of seven years to commercialise the products. The process and approval is a long one before you get to commercialization.