The Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Professor Alex Dodoo, has been sworn in as President of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO).
This was at the 28th General Assembly of the continental standards body in Yaounde, Cameroun, yesterday.
Prof. Dodoo takes over from Charles Booto a Ngon, the Head of Cameroun’s national standards body, who served for the term 2022-2025.
The GSA Boss is now the second Ghanaian to lead the influential continental association, following in the footsteps of Dr Emmanuel K. Marfo, who was ARSO President from 1992-1994.
Prof. Dodoo won the bid to lead the organisation after an election at the 26th ARSO Hybrid General Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda, in June last year.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration presented Prof. Dodoo to the ARSO Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya as Ghana’s nominee for the ARSO Presidency in April last year.
Prof. Dodoo’s candidature was endorsed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in a letter to ARSO, in which the ministry said he had provided strong and remarkable leadership in the transformation of the GSA, culminating in its high visibility.
In his acceptance speech, the new ARSO President said the agenda for his presidency was to leverage the image and position of ARSO to change the narrative about Africa by deepening intra-African trade within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He said the focus would be on improving trade in made-in-Africa goods for local, regional and global markets.
Prof. Dodoo explained that ARSO traced its genesis to the unfolding events and the prevailing mood of the African socio-political and economic Pan-Africanism of the 1970s, which culminated in a conference in Accra.
“African governments, under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ENECA) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), convened the founding conference of ARSO in Accra, Ghana from January 10 to 17, 1977 to consider the first Constitution of ARSO and witness the formation of the organisation to speed up African economic integration,” he said.
Prof. Dodoo said the time was, therefore, ripe to take ARSO to the next level and position it as a pivotal body for the economic transformation of Africa, as Ghana led the organisation.
“This is especially so since the AfCFTA Secretariat is based in Accra, as there is opportunity to use proximity to the secretariat to further the aims of ARSO now that the AfCFTA is in its early stages,” he said.
Prof. Dodoo said every action and activity under his leadership would be in line with four broad strategies - the sustainability of ARSO, its financial stability, development and expansion.
They would also include boosting intra-African trade through industrialisation, use of standards, mutual recognition arrangements and any other means that would allow Africans to trade with one another within the continent, he added.
Equally, he said, he would focus on deepening regional self-sufficiency by supporting governments to invest in and maintain a solid sustainable quality infrastructure for standards, measurement and testing, all based on a ‘Regional Quality Infrastructure Policy’.
“We have to make, and not just take, standards, preferably at the International Standards Organisation (ISO) level. ARSO standards should become ISO standards due to our participation in standards development at the highest levels,” Prof. Dodoo said.
For his part, Mr a Ngon said he was confident that Prof. Dodoo would steer the affairs of ARSO in a manner that would help elevate African businesses to participate fully in global trade.
He encouraged African governments to get involved in the activities of the standards community and take advantage of the wide network of experts in the field.
“There are challenges for small and medium-size businesses in Africa; but they are, in most of our countries, the engines of growth, so we have to take advantage of the network of experts in the standards community to help these businesses scale up,” he said.
A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Michael Baafi, who led the Ghanaian delegation to the ARSO General Assembly, expressed the government’s commitment and support for ARSO under the leadership of Prof. Dodoo.
“We are very interested in the affairs of ARSO as a government, so on behalf of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I want to pledge the full commitment of the government to the Presidency of Prof. Dodoo,” he said.