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GSA to digitalise Standards purchases in 2024

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Joyce Okoreee, Acting Director, Certification Directorate of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), has revealed that the Ghana Standards Authority will be enabling online purchase of Standards this year.

Speaking during the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce’s (UKGCC) webinar on “The Role of the Ghana Standards Authority in Promoting Local and International Trade,” Madam Okoree remarked that the process is about 90% complete.

“We acknowledge that it (the inability to purchase standards online) is an issue and it’s being addressed. For now, you can pay via mobile money and bank transfers and receive your standards with all the security features.

“But very soon, you can make payment via VISA card or Mastercard. We will get there definitely this year.”

She added that the digitalisation of Standards purchases is important to remove human interventions and make the process seamless, i.e. get the services and payments done on time, as well as get the expected outcomes received by the client on time.

What is the GSA?

The GSA is the National Statutory Body responsible for the management of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI). The NQI is hinged on three key pillars: Standardisation, Metrology, and Conformity Assessment (Testing, Inspection and Certification).

The GSA Act, 2022 (ACT 1078) established the Ghana Standards Authority and mandates it to, among others, establish, promulgate, and maintain standards to ensure high quality of goods and services that are for both local consumption or for export, or imported for local consumption.

How does the GSA promote local and international trade?

Quality infrastructure is critical for trade, innovation, and competitiveness. It leads to increased market access, which facilitates increased exports, increased product diversification, and improved investment opportunities.

By ensuring compliance to Standards, the GSA ensures that Ghanaian products meet specific quality and safety criteria. This enhances the reputation of Ghanaian products and builds trust among consumers and importers. It also allows exporters to demonstrate their commitment to producing high-quality products, which can positively impact their export potential.

Challenges in complying with GSA Standards

According to Basil Yaw Ampofo, the Global Product Compliance Manager (Africa) at Unilever, complying with Standards enables industry to effectively compete in the market, and enhances product acceptance in foreign markets.

However, challenges remain that impede industry’s ability to comply with Standards.

“Most of the time, some of the changes that the GSA will require of industry involves significant capital investment in technology and infrastructure, which can impact businesses’ operational costs. Most often than not, the cost is transferred to the consumer, so goods become expensive”.

He also noted that it “takes quite a while for the GSA to certify products”.

Mr. Ampofo concluded that challenges have served as opportunities for innovation and process improvement within the industry. He, therefore, entreated the GSA to address these challenges by engaging in broad stakeholder conversations with industry to explore solutions.

Addressing the issue of delays, Madam Okoree remarked that “we know that sometimes we have delays. This is sometimes due to defective equipment.”

She, however, assured businesses that the GSA will review its processes and explore how it can expedite their processes because “we need the business as well and if industry is not happy, we need to take steps to meet their needs”.

To address delays, in the meantime, Madam Okoree mentioned that the GSA is currently building the capacity of some regional offices to lessen traffic at its head office. This in addition to expedited services for certain products, and the existence of competent partner testing laboratories that assist the GSA.

The GSA and SME education

Panelists agreed that the GSA could do more to educate the public on its role, especially how it differs from the Food and Drugs Authority, as well as educating SMEs on its role and encouraging them to comply with Standards.

According to Madam Okoree, the GSA has simplified technical Standards, called pictorial Standards, and handbooks on the implementation of Standards, available at its library, to enhance SME education.

A strong believer that “SMEs are the engine of growth”, Madam Okoree passionately encouraged SMEs to engage the GSA on their Standards needs and issues to enable the Authority develop bespoke solutions to spur their growth.

“Our joy would be that we have many SMEs on board our scheme. If you have issues, you should write to the Director General informing him of your concerns. Formalising the process with a letter ensures that you will get results.

“Take advantage of our library and you can access many standards. GSA is here to build SMEs to grow. Our doors are always open, and we will discuss all issues with you.

Panellists also discussed related topics including the GSA Mark of Conformity, its role in the AfCFTA, the product certification process, and how the GSA ensures that substandard goods do not cause public harm.

Theophilus Tawiah, UKGCC Executive Council Member and Managing Partner, WTS Nobisfields, moderated the webinar.

About the UKGCC

The UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC) was established in 2016 to promote trade between the UK and Ghana. It is the leading UK business support organisation in Ghana.
The UKGCC provides exceptional support for its members through the sharing of knowledge and ideas, creating platforms for building stronger networks and providing linkages with Government and its agencies. One of its key foci is to see Ghana become a significant economic partner for the UK as an export market, import source, investment destination and vice versa. It exists to further the business interests of its members across both countries and create more business opportunities.
The Chamber is backed by the British and Ghana Governments through the UK-Ghana Business Council and the British Chambers of Commerce in the UK and is Africa Scotland Business Network Strategic Partner.

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