ECOCONF: Adoption of documents related to the setting up of the regional system (ECOWAS) of certification of persons

The West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) of ECOWAS, implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), is funded by the European Union up to 12 million Euros (EU). This programme supports the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Quality Policy "to establish a framework for the development and operation of appropriate, relevant, effective and efficient Quality Infrastructure to facilitate intra-regional and international trade, protect the consumer and the environment, and promote sustainable economic development ".

Following the Regulation C / REG. / 19/12/13 of 2013 taken by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and adopting the Regional Quality Infrastructure Scheme of the region, the WAQSP conducted a study to set up and make operational the ECOWAS Quality Infrastructure structures created by the said Regulation, notably the Community Committee for Conformity Assessment (ECOCONF). Thus, based on the conclusions and proposals of this study, the ECOWAS Council of Ministers adopted in June 2017 seven (07) Community Regulations including the Regulation C / REG.11 / 06/17 on the organization and functioning of ECOCONF.

ECOCONF held its constituent meeting, from 8 to 9 November 2017. Togo and Sierra Leone hold respectively the presidency and vice-presidency. The implementation of the adopted action plan is done within the framework of the WAQSP. Indeed, one of the missions of ECOCONF is the setting up of the Regional Mark of Conformity to ECOWAS standards called "ECOQMARK". It should be noted that the Committee adopted the general rules of certification at its second meeting held on 26 and 27 July 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.

As a result of this meeting, ECOWAS Member States proposed forty-four (44) products of which five (05) products were identified as priorities on the basis of the selection criteria previously adopted. These five (05) priority products are: drinking water, roasted cashew nuts, vegetable oils, cement and fish. The logo of the Regional Mark of Conformity was adopted by the Member States in January 2019. Accordingly, the Committee held its third meeting, from 18 to 21 June 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria and adopted the special product certification rules for the five (05) priority products selected. It was recommended at this meeting the development of the sectoral applications of the ECOQMARK Mark in order to better meet the needs expressed. Thus the first applications have been proposed in the areas of certification of persons.

To adopt the first applications of the "ECOQMARK" Mark, including the certification of persons, the WAQSP gathered in Conakry, Guinea, from 22 to 23 July 2019, the representatives of the fifteen (15) ECOWAS countries in the Committee and representatives of private sector organizations (FEWACCI and FWAEA). At the official opening, they received encouragement from the Guinean authorities, namely Mr. Tibou Kamara, Minister of Industry and SMEs. He was accompanied by his head of Cabinet, his Technical Quality Advisor, the Director of Industry and the Director General of the Guinean Institute for Standardization and Metrology. It was attended by Mr. Yaya Niafo, representative of the ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, and a UNIDO delegation composed of his Representative in Guinea, Mr. Ansoumane Berete and Ms. Sanfaré Kadidiatou Kassé.

At the end of the first day, after the ECOCONF President, Mr. Kafui K. Kouassi, took stock of the status of implementation of the action plan since the last meeting, participants worked on the draft documents related to the setting up of the regional system (ECOWAS) of certification of persons:

- Certification criteria "ECOWAQ Lead Auditors ISO 9001";

- Certification criteria "ECOWAQ Lead Auditors ISO 22000".

- Certification procedures for "ECOWAQ Lead Auditors".

- Specific rules for the use of the Mark

- General sales conditions of "Certification of Persons".

- Code of ethics for certified persons or in the process of being certified

- Code of ethics for "ECOWAQ Lead Auditors";

- Declaration of conformity to the code of ethics;

- Skills Development Registration Form;

- Audit registration form.

They also studied the reference programme "Food Safety" and validated the document templates to be adopted by ECOCWAQ, including:

- The rules of order of the certification bodies of persons;

- The model mandating agreement of the certification bodies of persons.

The discussions resulted in the following results:

1. Three (03) following certification programs have been reviewed, enriched and adopted by the Committee:

- ISO 9001 Auditors Certification Program of ECOWAS;

- ISO 22000 Auditors Certification Program of ECOWAS;

- Certification Program for Food Safety Practitioners of ECOWAS

2. The draft rules and mandate agreement of the certifying bodies of persons have been reviewed, enriched and validated by the Committee with a view to their adoption by the ECOWAS Quality Agency (ECOWAQ).






This program is funded by the European Union with the technical support of UNIDO

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Commision of the European Union