Unleashing power of the African Continental Free Trade Area

As Africa charts a path towards economic growth and development through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it is essential that we acknowledge the potential impact on the lives of diverse industry players.

The success of this initiative will not only benefit governments and businesses but also have a profound impact on the daily lives of ordinary Africans, touching the very fabric of their existence.

Indeed, the transformative power of the AfCFTA cannot be understated; as an African proverb wisely reminds us, "When the music changes, so does the dance."

To ensure the realisation of the AfCFTA' s potential, key stakeholders such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) have been actively working towards increasing intra-African trade and facilitating the implementation of the AfCFTA.

KEBS, as a leading standardization body in the region, plays a vital role in enhancing intra-African trade. The organization has been at the forefront of efforts to develop and implement harmonized standards that promote trade and economic integration within the continent.

Through its rigorous standardization processes, KEBS ensures that products conform to quality and safety requirements, enabling Kenyan businesses to compete effectively in the African market. Furthermore, KEBS has been actively engaged in capacity-building programs, providing technical assistance, and training to local businesses to enhance their compliance with international standards. This proactive approach by KEBS is facilitating the participation of Kenyan businesses in the AfCFTA and contributing to the growth of intra-African trade.

ARSO, as the regional standardization body, plays a central role in accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA. Recently, during the just concluded ARSO General Assembly meeting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, the organization reaffirmed its commitment to support the AfCFTA's objectives. The theme of the meeting, "Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area and Implementation: One Standard-One Test-One Certificate-Accepted Everywhere," underscores ARSO's dedication to harmonizing standards and facilitating trade across the continent.

It is encouraging to see the tangible efforts and progress being made by KEBS, ARSO, and other standardization bodies in Africa in the context of the AfCFTA. These organizations are not merely discussing the need for harmonized standards and increased collaboration; they are actively implementing solutions and taking concrete steps towards achieving these goals.

By developing harmonized standards that cater to the diverse African marketplace, KEBS is ensuring that Kenyan businesses are well-positioned to participate in the AfCFTA. The organization's capacity-building programs and technical assistance are empowering local businesses to meet international standards, enhancing their competitiveness, and opening new opportunities for growth.

ARSO's dedication to the acceleration and implementation of the AfCFTA is commendable. The organization's focus on "One Standard-One Test-One Certificate-Accepted Everywhere" highlights the importance of eliminating trade barriers and streamlining processes for businesses operating across Africa. Through its collaborative efforts with Africa national standardization bodies, ARSO is playing a pivotal role in creating a conducive environment for intra-African trade.

While challenges remain on the path towards realizing the full potential of the AfCFTA, it is essential to recognize the progress being made and the active role played by standardization bodies like KEBS.

As Africa embraces the AfCFTA and endeavors to transform the lives of its people, the proactive measures taken by standardization bodies are crucial. By focusing on tangible solutions and concrete actions, KEBS, and other stakeholders are driving the continent towards a brighter future.

The AfCFTA is not just a trade agreement; it is a transformative force that can shape Africa's destiny. By connecting the AfCFTA with Agenda 2063, we align our efforts towards a common vision of a prosperous and integrated Africa.

The stage is set, and the time is now. Together, let us continue to support the endeavors of standardization bodies in the continent as they work towards a common vision of a vibrant and interconnected African market. By leveraging the power of harmonized standards, we will accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA, promote intra-African trade, and create sustainable growth and development across the continent.

Esther Ngari is the Acting Managing Director Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Secretary to the National Standards Council