Gadzikwa takes on new challenge

STANDARDS Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) director general Dr Eve Gadzikwa has taken over as the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) president.

Dr Gadzikwa, who started her new job in June, becomes the 13th ARSO president and becomes the first woman to head the organisation.

ARSO, formerly the African Regional Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), traces its origins to the socio-political and economic Pan-Africanism mood that prevailed in the 1970s.

The idea of a continental standardisation body had received considerable impetus from the buoyant and optimistic mood that characterised the post-independence period in most parts of Africa.

Our reporter AFRICA MOYO had a wide-ranging interview with Dr Gadzikwa to establish her plans in taking ARSO forward.

Q: What does it mean for Zimbabwe and for yourself to assume such an influential post?

A: This is a wonderful opportunity for me to lead in an area I have passion with given that I have been at the helm of SAZ since 2008.

Zimbabwe is at a critical juncture where it really can influence standards and promote confidence building in Africa, leveraging on the continental body.

Zimbabwe has a lot to offer in the area of standards given its long history of standardisation. We have an opportunity to ride on this opportunity to unlock value of standards by increasing Zimbabwe’s participation in developing regional harmonised standards to promote inter Africa trade.

Q: Tell us some of your plans to steer ARSO to the next level.

A: My vision for 2016-2019 is to understand the unique challenges (some national standards boards (NSBs) are still very young and need much support. I also intend to drive membership from 36 to 54 members. It is also my plan to unite Africa, facilitate inclusivity (ARSO must be accessible and relevant to all members), increase participation (standards harmonisation), capacity building, creating mutual beneficial opportunities for partnerships to promote inter and intra-Africa trade.

I will also maximise the potential of ARSO in promoting standards for SMEs, poverty alleviation, sustainability and inclusive business.

Q: To what extent is your work with ARSO going to help you influence the way standardisation in Zimbabwe?

A: The election of a SAZ director general to the position of president of ARSO presents a number of regional opportunities for Zimbabwe. In line with its strategic thrust, SAZ has signed a memorandum of understanding with ARSO.

However, for SAZ to fully capitalise and leverage on this unique opportunity, management is implementing the following programmes – the Association is operationalising the signed MoU with ARSO to offer training courses to member states here in Zimbabwe, thus optimising relevance of SAZ.

It is also fully operationalising other regional and international MOUs with some standard bodies.

SAZ will optimise its business model so as to be able to leverage on ARSO opportunities by unlocking value of its strengths and opportunities.

There is need to also offer regional national standards bodies accredited conformity assessment services in areas where it has excess capacity, for instance certification, inspection, testing and calibration, including:

Offering standards consultancy services in areas in which it has experience for example, highlighting SAZ’s governance model and inter-phase with policy makers;

SAZ will also make use of ARSO to raise its regional presence or acceptance of its brand by strengthening its strategic positioning in the region;

Driving industrialisation by making use of standards to improve production;

Using standards to improve the ease of doing business by benchmarking with regional counterparts;

Encouraging participation of SAZ in local, regional and international standardisation projects;

Development of National Quality Policy (NQI), borrowing from ARSO model;

Implementation of Zimbabwe National Standardisation Strategy (ZNSS) to take into account and align with ARSO 2012-2017 and the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 2016-2021 strategy;

Aligning SAZ standardisation and harmonisation activities with regional and international standards;

Promoting harmonisation of standards to promote inter-regional trade between Zimbabwe and rest of Africa;

Enhancing the role of women and youth through standards (mentorship programs, assay competition, quality awards, industrialisation; and

Promoting the importance of standards to CEOs through a Business Leaders’ Conference 17-19 August 2016

Q: Apart from SAZ and ARSO, you also lead several other institutions such as the Institute of Directors Zimbabwe. What is the secret behind your successes?

A: My successes are a result of focusing on what matters — big picture thinking, not being afraid to get my hands dirty, a determination to make a meaningful contribution (legacy) and my love for Zimbabwe.

Q: Some women still complain of marginalisation in the country, blaming the patriarchal nature of society for the situation they find themselves in.

What can you tell such women?

A: There is room for women at the top, for those who dare to lead.

Q: Upon your election, you spoke about the need for empowering African women and youth by integrating them in the development agenda. Tell us how you plan to do this during your term?

A: The AU Agenda 2063 theme recognises the potential of women and need to support development of women.

My strategy involves developing standardised approaches to address challenges affecting development of women in Africa in line with Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals:

Underscoring the role of women in development in Africa in reducing poverty;

Raising awareness of standards to facilitate trade and improve competitiveness of women-led businesses;

Raising the bar in terms of industrialisation of women, especially in marginalised settings;

Climate change mitigation standards for renewables to solve everyday problems faced by women;

Information sharing and business or financial inclusion models (gender main streaming)

Promoting “Made in Africa” quality products through an expo to be launched in Zimbabwe;

Access to bridging finance for women.

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