Rwanda Hosts ARSO Standards Harmonization Meeting Bringing Together Experts from 28 Countries

From 12th-16th February 2024, in the framework of implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (Af-CFTA), Rwanda through Rwanda Standards Board hosts the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) meeting to harmonize food standards. 

Some of the delegates in a group photo

The African Organization for Standardization (ARSO), an Africa’s intergovernmental standards body has been given the mandate of coordinating the standards and conformity assessment procedures harmonization work to facilitate intra-Africa trade among African countries.

 In this context, ARSO in collaboration continental development partners, and with the support of experts from its African Member Countries have prioritized harmonization of standards in the identified eight priority sectors namely: fish and fisheries products, milk and milk products, horticulture, coffee, cocoa and tea, live animals, animal feeding and agriculture and biotechnology.

The meeting brings together experts from 28 countries and during the week they are working to harmonize about 200 food standards in the areas of fish and fisheries products, milk and milk products, horticulture, coffee, cocoa, tea, live animals, animal feeding, agriculture and biotechnology.

In his welcome remarks to ARSO and peer African Standardizers, Mr Murenzi Raymond Director General of Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) reiterated that harmonizing standards sets a common language for facilitating and fast-tracking intra Africa trade as all countries are committed to do so; and that standards serve as benchmarks to remove technical barriers to trade.

Dr. Hermogène Nsengimana, ARSO SG

Dr Hermogène Nsengimana, ARSO Secretary General appreciated countries efforts to participate in standards development and harmonization at continental level as a way to fast-track implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): “ We are grateful to the Government of Rwanda for the continued support to standardization and promoting intra-Africa trade through the implementation of the AfCFTA. We are happy that all Regional Economic Blocks are here participating and we are promoting Mutual Recognition Agreements among the trading partners. Todate, ARSO in collaboration with Members and Partners,  has been able to develop and harmonize more than 1000 standards that are being used in the implementation of the AfCFTA and we carry on with prioritized sectors, the food sector being one of them."

Mr Richard Niwenshuti, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Trade and Industry

While officially opening the meeting, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Richard Niwenshuti remarked:  "We are happy that all African countries are engaged in putting efforts together to harmonize standards and other requirements towards the achievement of trade promotion, environment promotion, public health and thus sustainable development. We appreciate the presence of all experts from 28 countries to participate in this week's standards harmonization activities as the 200 standards to be harmonized will serve as strong basis in the continued journey we are in to fast-track implementation of AfCFTA."


Development of harmonized standards is among key priorities of ARSO and African Union at large and Rwanda was offered to host physical meetings of three ARSO Technical Committee (TC):  ARSO/TC 03, Fish, Fisheries, and Aquaculture; ARSO TC 05, Horticulture and ARSO TC 83, Organic Agriculture and Biotechnology) to deliberate and advance the development of African Standards which are at various standards harmonization stages. The 140 experts from 28 African Member Countries of ARSO will deliberate and advance the development of African Standards as a way to promote free trade of the said products on the continent. Participating countries are: Angola, Burundi, Cameroun, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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