Establishment of a UEMOA System for
Accreditation, Standardization and Quality Promotion
The West African Economic and Monetary Union – Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) of
Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo was established in 1994 to work
towards the economic integration of the region. With a population of 70 million and an area of 3.5 million sq. km.
it provides an enormous potential for economic development.
To foster this regional development UEMOA has agreed on a Common Industrial Policy which, as a core element,
foresees a Regional System for Accreditation, Standardization and Quality. This system will be a main driving force
in facilitating the participation of UEMOA countries in regional and international trade.
Metrology, in conjunction with reference and testing
laboratories, has an essential role to play both in
improving product quality and in gaining international
recognition of this quality. By ensuring that the testing
activities of the laboratories comply with international
standards, the UEMOA/UNIDO Programme will create
confidence in local products and encourage a culture of
quality. The Programme will strengthen national
laboratories in both equipment and staff skills, and will
prepare them for international accreditation.
At a regional level the Programme will:
• Establish a regional accreditation secretariat.
• Set up regional networks of specialized laboratories.
• Establish a pool of qualified regional technical laboratory
• Harmonize analytical procedures throughout the region.
At a national level it will:
• Set up local networks of laboratories in the different
industrial sectors with databases that each country
can use to carry out its own analysis and calibration.
• Strengthen the capacity of existing testing
laboratories to analyze products.
• Improve the commercial, financial and quality
management of the laboratories.
• Ensure adequate maintenance of laboratory
equipment by highly skilled technicians.
More concretely, the Programme will
improve the capacity of the laboratories to
conduct regulatory inspection of plant and
animal health, and of pesticide residues,
and will harmonize the methods that are
used to analyze foodstuffs.
UEMOA, for its part, will ensure collaboration between the laboratories in the different member countries, through
their mutual recognition and their sharing of experience. It will encourage the establishment of regional accreditation
laboratories and laboratory networks where these would be more effective than national systems.
Most of the member states are however classified as Least Developed
Countries (LDCs). The implementation of the Common Industrial
Policy and the overall development of the region therefore constitute
a major challenge. The LDCs are in particular ill equipped to
participate in the new world of trade liberalization. They are
exposed to the increased competition that comes from lowered
trade tariffs, but are facing difficulties in delivering exports of the
To meet this challenge UEMOA has, with the support
of the European Commission, and together with
DIAGNOS, developed a Programme of Regional
Integration and Private Sector Development, the
PARI Secteur Privé. This Programme contains a
component on “Quality” financed with EURO 12.5
million from the European Development Fund, to
be implemented in large part by UNIDO. The
Programme will focus particularly on measures
to ensure that goods produced in the region
meet international standards and
UNIDO will draw on its specialized expertise to provide
assistance in three areas:
• The establishment of a regional accreditation and
certification system: it will upgrade laboratories
so that they can receive international accreditation.
• The strengthening and harmonization of existing
standardization institutions: it will establish a
regional documentation center with a database of
standards and technical regulations, and will
develop and co-ordinate national standardization
• The promotion of quality in companies: it will
develop regional technical support centers to assist
companies improve the quality of their products;
it will introduce a UEMOA Quality Award and will
encourage the development of a culture of quality,
with a particular emphasis on consumer protection.
The major investment of resources will be in training national staff in the appropriate technical skills and
management responsibilities. Organizationally the Programme will be implemented at both regional and
national levels, with a regional coordination unit liaising with national coordinators. A regional expert group
will provide guidance for the Programme. In each country a steering committee will decide on national
priorities, which a national coordinator will then ensure are implemented.
The successful outcome of this Programme will be a significantly increased regional trade, following the
harmonization of standards and technical regulations within the region. At the same time, international
accreditation of national laboratories will facilitate the acceptance of exports in the markets of Europe and
the rest of the world. Such trade enhancement is essential to the economic development of the region.
The Programme will harmonize standards and will complete legal and regulatory
frameworks throughout the UEMOA countries. This will greatly facilitate trade within
the region, giving national producers a larger neighboring market to aim for, and
offering the economic benefits of improved economies of scale. With product specifications
drawn up to international standards, it will also facilitate international trade beyond
The Programme will undertake three main regional initiatives.
• Establish a regional documentation center with a database of
standards and technical regulations. This regional center will allow
the member countries to share the costs of these expensive
• Harmonize standards and technical regulations.
• Propose a framework law for consumer protection to ensure that
consumers are fully informed about product contents, correct
packaging and storage, and their health implications.
At the national level the Programme will:
• Develop the existing national institutions for standardization and quality control, and
train their personnel. These institutions will then be coordinated at the regional level.
• Encourage local companies to participate in the Programme by jointly identifying the
needs for standardization.
Goods produced both for local consumption and for export must conform to health,
safety and environment protection requirements. One of the Programme’s priorities
will be to introduce technical standards to ensure that these requirements are met.
Quality is, of course, not only determined by one party in a trading relationship. The
Programme will promote the knowledge and use of standards, technical rules and
quality management systems used in the countries that buy goods from and supply
goods to the UEMOA countries.
The introduction and harmonization of standards involves meetings at an expert level
with international organizations. The Programme will give the governments of the
member countries technical assistance in defining a common policy for intensifying their
dialogue with international technical organizations such as the WTO Committee on
Technical Barriers to Trade, international standardization organizations such as the ISO,
the Joint Commission of the FAO and the WTO on the Codex Alimentarius, as well as
with regional and sub-regional organizations.
Some of the essential support infrastructure for achieving improvement
in quality is provided through laboratory upgrading and accreditation,
as well as through harmonized standards. Success however will also
be determined by the attitudes of the men and women in the
companies, and in the technical support institutions. Without a culture
of quality the production processes will not successfully meet the
challenge of increased local, regional and international competition.
Primary aims of the Programme are therefore to foster quality
awareness, and to provide practical support for the companies that
undertake the pursuit of quality. Particular attention will be given
to gaining the commitment to quality, through the certification of
their products, of companies with high export potential.
Awareness of quality will be fostered in both producers and consumers:
• An annual UEMOA Quality Award will be established both as an
incentive to companies to pursue quality, and as a means whereby
they can measure themselves against national and regional
• Companies will be made aware of modern management, quality,
and continuous improvement concepts, with their economic benefits,
and of the importance of quality in a competitive market.
• Consumer protection laws and consumer protection associations
will be encouraged; assistance will be given to the creation of
public awareness campaigns.
The Programme will also provide further infrastructural
support and strengthen the national quality movement.
• Create a database to improve the coordination
of standards and technical rules between the
different parties: public administration, support
institutions, companies and consumers.
• Strengthen existing technical support centers
for specific industries, and develop selected
national technical support institutions into
• Support member countries in assisting their
companies to introduce standardization, quality
management, good manufacturing practices,
and productivity improvement techniques.
West African Economic and Monetary Union – Commission
Director of Industry, Mining and Handicrafts
01 P.O. Box 543
Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso
Design: Vander Weele Graphics, G. Hinker 8 / 2001 / 5000 Text: M. Scullion
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Quality, Technology and Investment Branch
P.O. Box 300
A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Africa, Carribean, Pacific
Rue de la Loi 41