Focus on manufacturing - At Graphic Business/Stanbic meeting on July 31
With the contribution of manufacturing to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at a low of 4.5 per cent in 2017, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) says a strong conformity to international standards will be needed to reverse the trend and improve the competitiveness of companies in the ailing sector
Director-General of the GSA, Prof. Alexander Dodoo, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on July 24 that standardisation was a cornerstone to the growth of the manufacturing sector.
He was speaking ahead of the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast meeting on the fortunes of manufacturing.
The meeting, which will bring together key players in the value-addition business, is scheduled to take place on July 31 at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra. The Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo and the CEO of Tropical Cables and Conductors Ltd, Dr Tony Oteng-Gyasi are part of the speakers
Conformity to standards
The conformity to standards is expected to help endear the products of local manufacturers to foreign markets, thereby giving them an extra platform to expand and contribute meaningfully to the economy.
Prof Dodoo explained that although trade opening did not automatically bring growth, there were several examples of countries in which integration into the world economy, through conformity to standards was followed by strong growth in manufacturing.
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“Standardisation is a critical cornerstone of every nation’s development and the manufacturing sector could be expanded with access to larger markets through adherence to international standards,” he said
State of manufacturing
Prof. Dodoo’s advice on the need for conformity to standards comes on the back of dwindling fortunes in the manufacturing sub-sector.
Annual growth in the sub-sector declined from 10.2 per cent in 2006 to 5.3 per cent in 2013 before declining further to 4.6 per cent in 2016 to an all-time low of 4.5 per cent in 2017.
He said to help halt the dwindling fortunes and restore the sector to its former glory, the GSA had a huge responsibility in the management of the National Quality Infrastructure encompassing standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment.
“Standards protect consumers and their health, as well as the environment as measurement is a basis for trade, that is why compliance with standards and the respective technical provisions has become one of the pre-conditions for participating in world trade,” he said.
Despite the tremendous prospects expected from conformity to standards, less than 50 organisations operating in the country have signed onto the international standard that specifies requirements for a Quality Management System (QMS), ISO 9001, which was adopted by the country in 2015.
Implementing the ISO 9001:20015 enables continuous improvement of an organisation’s QMS and processes. In turn, this improves the ability of an organisation’s operation to meet customer requirements and expectations.
Although voluntary, the National Technical Coordinator of West Africa Quality System, Mr James Amissah Hammond, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that it was improper for only 50 organisations in the country to have signed up for the programme since the adaptation of the ISO 9001 was critical for development.
“The programme is being implemented in all the 16 ECOWAS countries, including Mauritania, so basically we are looking at thematic areas in the ECOWAS quality policy which all the member state governments, including Ghana, have approved; so currently we are seeking to support the conformity assessment bit of the policy,” he said.
In Ghana, the GSA is mandated under the Standards Authority Act, 1973 to undertake conformity assessment activities and give permission for a conforming product to bear a mark of conformity called the Standard Mark; providing evidence of compliance to specification.
As a result, a product bearing this mark carries a third-party guarantee which is an assurance that the product has been tested and conforms to the requirements of an accepted standard.
Consumers require the assurance that products and services and comply with national regulations.
This confidence can only be realised through conformity assessment of products, processes or services to ensure fulfilment of requirements and relevant standards. Conformity to these standards offers protection by safeguarding the consumer’s health and safety.