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24.02.2005 Regional News

Resource standardization bodies to alleviate poverty - Veep advocates

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Accra, Feb. 24, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama on Thursday asked African Governments to adequately resource institutions tasked with ensuring standards to be able to play critical roles towards sustainable development and improved standard of living.

"Standardisation brings about efficient utilization of resources, promotes health and safety of consumers, ensure cost effectiveness and quality in production and enhances competitiveness for domestic and international trade," he said.

Vice President Mahama, who was addressing the 13th General Assembly of the Africa Regional Organisation for Standards (ARSO), however, noted that standards boards in Africa were not very effective because they were poorly resourced.

He, therefore, commended ARSO for focusing on 'Standardisation and Poverty Alleviation in Africa' at the conference to highlight their role in poverty alleviation.

"The outcome of this meeting should help place standardization firmly in the context of national development and Africa's production and services in respect of quality standards from its largely mediocre level to one of pre-eminence, leading to sustainable level of resource utilization and improved trade flows."

The Vice President challenged the delegates to specifically formulate strategies that would assist African Governments to use standardization to reduce poverty; promote the culture of standardization among Africans for enhanced productivity and to integrate standardization into policies aimed at promoting industrialization.

He said solving Africa's poverty problems required high level of imagination and creativity and as experts they should lead the way. Whereas industrialised countries with experience had recorded significant reduction in poverty levels in the past 50 years, the Vice President noted, poverty levels in Africa had risen by 43 per cent in the past decade.

Ghana, he said, had responded to the situation with several comprehensive interventions, particularly the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy, which was introduced by the current Government. Mr Alan Brighton, Secretary-General of the International Standards Organisation (ISO), talked about the role of his outfit, saying it did not only set and regulate standards for promoting good health, environment and safety but also for better managerial practices.

Nana Adzei Bekoe, a former member of the Council of State and a renowned scientist, who chaired the function, challenged the delegates to also set standards for good political practice to strengthen democracy.

ARSO, a regional federation of national standards bodies in Africa with a membership of 25, serves as a coordinating mechanism for the exchange of information, gives technical guidance and supports Africa to respond to standardization problems.

It was formed in Ghana in 1977 with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The conference attended by delegates from 23 countries, started on Monday and would end on Friday.

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