Nigeria is currently hosting the 30th General Assembly of the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO), where the focus is on advocating for quality education to equip the youth with essential skills for the 4th industrial revolution and to drive the continent’s economic integration agenda.

Standardization and Education, Key Drivers for Africa’s Industrialization and Growth

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, emphasized the pivotal role of standardization in promoting sustainable development, innovation, and enhancing intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The minister stressed the importance of standards in our daily lives, economic efficiency, and facilitating trade, as well as their role in transitioning towards a more sustainable and resilient development model.

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Under the theme, “Educating an African Fit for the 21st Century – Building a Quality Culture, One Market, One Standard”, the minister highlighted the interdependence between education, industrialization, trade, and standardization. She urged African nations to focus on developing relevant curricula and skills for youth and Small and Medium Enterprises to unlock opportunities presented by the 4th industrial revolution and the integrated market of the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA, ratified by 35 African nations, is projected to significantly stimulate intra-African trade, boost agricultural and industrial exports, spur economic growth, and potentially lift millions out of poverty. However, the minister cautioned that realizing this potential requires harmonized regulatory frameworks anchored on common standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment systems across the continent. She reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to ARSO’s mandate of harmonizing standards to facilitate Africa’s economic integration through the AfCFTA.

Dr. Ifeanyi Okeke, the Director General of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), echoed the importance of standardization for creating a quality culture and a unified continental market. He emphasized that standardization ensures products and services meet international benchmarks, enhances competitiveness, and facilitates trade, aligning with the vision of ‘One Market, One Standard’, which is integral to the AfCFTA’s aspirations.

The high-level summit, which has drawn over 500 delegates from across Africa, will review ARSO’s strategic plans, technical committee works, and initiatives to promote standardization education and accredited quality infrastructure. Nigeria’s historical role in establishing ARSO in 1977 was also acknowledged, with the late Dr. Adedeji Adebayo, then UN Economic Commission for Africa Secretary General, championing the process.

The summit serves as a platform for fostering collaboration and leveraging standardization and education as key drivers for industrialization and economic integration on the African continent. It highlights the imperative of equipping the youth with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st century.