African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) is an African intergovernmental organization established in Accra, Ghana on 9th – 17th January 1977 at the Ghana International Conference Centre, under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (OAU, currently AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The objective of ARSO is to promote standardization and related activities in Africa with the aim of facilitating intra-African trade and international trade of goods and services. To respond to this need, ARSO established the ARSO Documentation and Information Systems Network (ARSO-DISNET) programme on standards, conformity assessment, technical regulations and activities related to trade in Africa. It was approved for re-establishment during the 47th ARSO Council. ARSO DISNET is a “one-stop-shop” source of comprehensive information on standards-related measures (standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures) play a critical role in shaping the flow of international trade.
ARSO-DISNET seeks to;-
- disseminate harmonized standards so as to facilitate trade among African countries;
- elaborate regional standards for Africa with particular references to products which are of interest to Africa;
- promote and co-ordinate standardization, quality control, certification marking, and metrology activities and practices in Africa;
- promote the exchange of experts and information, cooperation in the training of personnel in standardization and the use of laboratory and research facilities;
- co-ordinate the views of its members at the ISO, IEC, OIML and other international organizations concerned with standardization, quality control, certification marking and metrology; and provide services relating to standardization and allied matters to the members of the Organization.
- promoting closer co-operation among African countries and ensure information flow
ARSO-DISNET is a support programme and policy initiative which is aimed at the development of national and international information systems which will provide global knowledge on trade related issues and ways in which to facilitate free flow of goods due to availability of information thus creating an information-driven society.
SUMMARY OF THE STRUCTURE
Currently ARSO DISNET operates under four distinct but complimentary programmes:
Information Communication Technology (ICT)
The ICT programme is meant to establish ICT culture and a strategy that integrates ICT with the ARSO’s mission and functions with regard to
- ARSO online social platforms (Facebook, twitter)
- Electronic interface platforms and Emailing systems
- Online databases and exchange platforms
- Websites creation and management
The Library is a repository and a clearing and forwarding nerve center for the ARSO DISNET meant to provide appropriate facility for generation and dissemination of standard information through access, reference and circulation.
The Publishing House will publish, disseminate and archive information on standards and trade related matters and increase the availability of documents and disseminate valuable information emanating from ARSO activities, African standardisation work, research, African Standardisation Experts and Institutions.
ARSO African Trade Web Helpdesk
This African Trade Web-Portal shall constitute ARSO’s contribution to the Trade Information Cluster under the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade. The Trade Portal is an electronic “one-stop-shop” interface for managing the flow of comprehensive African countries trade information, data, facts and figures within the complex and increasingly regional and global supply chains aiming to meet and demonstrate compliance with quality standards, buyers’ requirements, trade regulations, tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
The Web portal will be dedicated, locally accessible knowledge platform where producers, SMEs, and value chains can better understand emerging market trends in different areas, differences between standards, and implications of adopting particular ones.
Membership is open to bodies competent to contribute to the flow of information on standardization and conformity assessment in accordance with the ARSO-DISNET guide. Members are representatives who provide linkages between ARSO DISNET and the Respective National Standards Bureau. The Member States are represented in ARSO DISNET by their National Standards Bodies.
Benefits expected from ARSO-DISNET
- An Information strategy that integrates with the ARSO’s mission and functions
- A repository of African Standardisation and Trade Information for timely access to up-to-date information leading to reduced time devoted to the search for information
- Availability of regional data bases on standards, technical regulations, quality control, certification and metrology activities from information supplied by participating centres;
- Proactive co-operation and closer links between ARSO-DISNET and regional, international and foreign information systems
- Responsive National Enquiry Points and increased awareness of Technical regulations among trading countries
- Availability of standardisation information materials and information (up to date catalogue or list of standards, draft standards and regulations published in its own territory).
- Interlinked regional and national information systems for increased access to trade related statistics information and data, hence trade facilitation
- Capacity building and Training opportunities for stakeholders officials on information systems operations
- Satisfactory response to enquiries on standards, conformity assessment, technical regulations and related documents.
- Increased competiveness of firms and improved export performance leading to more intra African trade due to reduction of trade barriers as a result of increased awareness on regime of standards and technical regulations existing in member states and hence facilitating market access compliance.
- Availability of published books on key original African Information on standardisation.
- Revolutionized information dissemination through the digital platforms (facebooks, twitter, websites).
- Increased access to regional and global markets with quality products meeting the expected requirements based on the available information.
- Organised archives that facilitates access to information