The ECOWAS Standards Harmonisation (ECOSHAM) Committee Meeting on Tourism Related Standards yesterday got underway at a hotel in Kololi. The three-day synergy is facilitated by the West Africa Quality Programme in support of the implementation of the ECOWAS Quality Policy and it is funded by the European Union.
The ECOWAS Commission has put in place a system of harmonisation of standards between member states, which ensures that there are no specific standards for individual member states, but a single and common standard for each service exchanged.
The meeting would review the comments and observations collected at the public enquiry stage on the following documents: criteria for grading the formal catering establishment; informal catering and drinking establishment; standards for rating of hotels and service accommodations; standards of sustainable tourism; and consideration of the 2017 work plan.
In his opening address, Hon. Abdoulie Jobe, minister of Trade, said the government of The Gambia has and will always continue to be committed to the ideals and visions of ECOWAS. He said the undertaking by ECOWAS to harmonise standards in key products, services and sectors across the region comes at a timely moment; when The Gambia is few years from its Vision 2020 timeline.
“My ministry has over the years undertaken significant policy initiatives and interventions and among these are the development of the National Trade Policy, Industrial Policy, Investment Policy, Micro, and Medium Enterprise Policy and National Quality Policy.”
Sheikh Ahmet Tejan Nyang, chairman of the Technical Harmonisation Committee 6 (THC6), said The Gambia is one of the leading tourism destinations in the sub-region and has over the years developed and implemented a number of sustainable projects geared towards the improvement of the livelihood of its people.
“The sector contributes between 18 to 20 percent of Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product; it creates both direct and indirect employment and the sector’s linkages with other sectors creates added value to its benefits,” he noted.
Papa Secka, director general of The Gambia Standards Bureau, noted that ECOWAS since inception has been doing a lot of work and contribution towards achieving a common market in the long run.
While acknowledging that a lot has been achieved Secka pointed out that there has been a persistent challenge that remains, mainly in the area of economic integration and the one market objective that they desire to have. “The inter-trade of ECOWAS members within ECOWAS stands also at a very low level which needs to be enhanced; as I speak it stands at 12 percent.”
Mensan Lawson-Hechelli, director of Industries ECOWAS Commission, said everything started in 2013 when they adopted the ECOSHAM, one of the priority programmes for ECOWAS common industrial policy. “Experts have identified quality standard meteorology as the priority programme of industrialisation in West Africa; so the work has started and a total of fifty standards are adopted.”
by Omar Wally