On Monday, December 4, 2023, the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), an intergovernmental Organisation established by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in 1977, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the East African Business Council (EABC). This MOU aims to create a collaborative framework to identify and mobilize Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), particularly those targeting youth and women in the East African Community (EAC) Partner States. The focus will be on Agri-business and other sectors (including the AfCFTA Trade Priority Sectors) with an emphasis on capacity building for the adoption and implementation of International and Regional Standards over a three-year period.

The MOU outlines the following key areas of cooperation:

  • Capacity building programs, including training workshops, seminars, and webinars on standards, conformity assessment procedures, and policy harmonisation for SMEs, particularly those in Agri-business, with a focus on women and youth from EAC Partner States.
  • Public-private engagement in priority sectors such as pharmaceuticals, textiles, and automotives to harmonize standards.
  • Support for SMEs, women, and youth in obtaining Eco-Mark Africa certification for their products.
  • Development and dissemination of standards-related educational materials and tools.
  • Conducting research and studies on the impact of standards adoption on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Identifying priority standards/guidelines for harmonisation in priority sectors like Agriculture, Pharmaceuticals, Textiles and Leather, and Automotives.
  • Creating awareness on standardisation among the SMEs within the EAC.
  • Supporting the visibility of SMEs by showcasing their products in major EAC and other regional events.

Both parties will establish a Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and Implementation Committee to oversee the implementation of activities under this MOU. The JSC will consist of representatives from EABC and ARSO, who will be responsible for the implementation of the activities based on an approved implementation plan jointly developed by both parties.

The Signing of the MoU follows a national Capacity building workshop for SMEs, Women, and Youth Entrepreneurs on “Export readiness under AfCFTA” organised by the EABC Secretariat on the 29th – 30th November 2023 at the Crown Conference Hall, Kigali, Rwanda, where ARSO Officials carried out Masterclass Training on standardisation to the participants. This is the first of the SMEs Workshop Series which is being planned for all the eight EAC State Parties (Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda), and targeting 1000 SMEs.

Published On: December 5th, 2023 / Categories: Highlights, News /