Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) services, recently hosted a breakfast to discuss exporting within Africa and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The company’s commitment to accelerating regulatory practices including conformity, compliance standards and protecting countries against the importation of sub-standard products was high up on the agenda at this all-important panel conversation. Bureau Veritas facilitates the safe passage of intra-country trade on the Continent, supporting clients to achieve market access for made-in-Africa products. With recent investments into laboratories to ensure compliance standards and the pre-Export Verification of Conformity programmes in place, Bureau Veritas, together with its partners, is determined to enhance inter-country exporting within Africa.

Bureau Veritas is a leader in Single Window concessions, innovative digital systems that cut customs clearance times and improve trade and transparency. “We envision Single Windows to be launched in Southern Africa going forward,” Martin stated.

Gavin Hefer, District Chief Executive Bureau Veritas Southern Africa, “Increasingly, we are here to support our valued customers ensure safe trading within Africa with the necessary health and safety protection of their employees and clients being our top priority. Using industry leading local and global expertise, we collaborate with partners to ensure conformity and compliance measures are in place to ensure our client businesses and public entities are compliant with local and international regulations. We remain committed to the construction, mining and commodities, manufacturing, healthcare (pharmaceutical), buildings and infrastructure, agriculture, food, oil, and gas, marine, power and utilities sectors. More than ever, our role as an expert, independent third-party company is crucial to shape a world of trust.”

Bureau Veritas partners the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Zimbabwe to provide conformity assessment services to regulated goods under the CBCA contracts governing general goods and consolidated cargo, used vehicles, and used vehicles spare parts.

Invited guests included Robert Mabulala, Counsellor from the Embassy of Zimbabwe, and Dianna Games from the South African/Nigerian Chamber of Commerce. Mr Mabulala confirmed the Government of Zimbabwe has implemented new CBCA programmes to reduce hazardous and substandard imported products and improve customs duty collection. Since the implementation of these programmes, as a guide for trading within the country, Zimbabwe has rejected a significant number of units of goods destined for the Zimbabwean market, ensuring the protection of consumers against sub-standard imported products, and protecting local industries.  Furthermore, he confirmed that the Government has intensified efforts to curb smuggling through intensifying border surveillance patrols and the use of drones to reduce importation through unauthorized border crossing points as commented during the panel discussion.

Between Bureau Veritas and other bodies, there is a pointed focus on conformity and compliance, which is helping accelerate safe and secure trade with Nigeria. “I am very interested in the way Bureau Veritas is working and realizing its importance on the Continent, having followed trade patterns and export for many years. It’s common cause that industrialization is very low in Africa and in the business of creating value chains and supply chains we must address that area. Nigeria is a huge market, it’s Africa’s biggest market so what happens there is very important to the Continent. Manufacturing is a very low part of the overall economy, less than 10% of GDP, so you get a large number of imports,” commented Dianna Games, Chief Executive of Africa@Work and Executive Director, South Africa-Nigeria Business Chamber.

The SONCAP Certificate is mandatory for Customs clearance of SONCAP-regulated goods under the import requirements of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The Nigerian government likewise has put in place strict measures to reduce dangerous and harmful imports into the country to protect Nigerian consumers. The Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) addresses the quality and standards of all imports of regulated products into the country.

“As the AfCFTA becomes a reality, governments and businesses need to be aware of product standards and regulations to protect traders and society. We are committed to a safe environment for the export of goods within countries in Africa. To this end, we have collaborated with Afreximbank to develop the African Quality Assurance Centre (AQAC) in Nigeria which is a prime example of ensuring compliance with standards for made-in-Africa products. In addition, the pre-Export Verification of Conformity programmes such as SONCAP in Nigeria and Consignment Based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) in Zimbabwe protects countries against the import of sub-standard products. Our role as an expert, independent thirty party company is crucial to create the conditions for trust and we will deploy all our efforts to help our clients protect the health and safety of its citizens.”
Bertrand Martin, Senior Vice-President Africa

One of the attending delegates, Mr Tendai Malunga, from Bureau Veritas Government Services and International Trade, shared that the company is currently monitoring closely on policy matters regarding the petroleum sector with particular emphasis on fuel transit fraud and adulteration.

To this effect he confirmed that Bureau Veritas has submitted a tender bid for fuel marking to assist the Government in addressing challenges in this sector and the outcome of this procurement process is still pending. In response to fuel theft concerns raised by a representative of the freight industry, Mr Malunga assured him that the Customs Department in Zimbabwe has implemented an electronic fuel cargo tracking system which monitors fuel trucks transiting through Zimbabwe to countries such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was shared that this may help and assist in reducing the incidence of such theft incidences as this provides visibility on the movement of fuel cargo. Using technology, and specifically electronic cargo seals, he explained the Customs Department (ZIMRA) monitors transit fuel consignments through dedicated fuel cargo tracking centers.

About Bureau Veritas

Bureau Veritas is committed to Africa’s future by supporting trade within the continent. Bureau Veritas has a presence in 45 African countries and has implemented at least 30 trade facilitation verification of conformity programmes in various countries. Through its dedicated trade web portal, Bureau Veritas plays a pivotal role in promoting intra-African trade by sharing country specific compliance requirements on one platform for ease of access by traders in various countries thereby enabling them to have key market penetration information and the regulatory framework of each jurisdiction.

Bureau Veritas’ objectives are to:

  • Support trade within the continent
  • Enable trade facilitation through co-operation on standards, technical regulation, and conformity assessment.
  • Assist clients to achieve market access for made-in-Africa products.
  • Through a network of laboratories Bureau Veritas has invested in, ensure compliance with regulations and driving of ethical standards are upheld across mining and food production value chains, amongst others.

Its geographical presence in 140 countries and unrivalled experience in certification processes, coupled with in-depth knowledge of local specifications and regulations are considerable assets the company provides to its clients, public authorities, and society to create and shape a world of trust.

The head office for Bureau Veritas Southern Africa is based in Johannesburg; with branches in Cape Town, Centurion, Durban, and Pretoria; and laboratories in Cape Town, Centurion, Durban, Johannesburg, and Richards Bay.