The 6th meeting of technical harmonization committee (THC -07) on textiles and leather products was convened at Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya from 5th to 8th of November 2019. It was attended by 27 delegates drawn from African Countries/Institutions namely; from Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (ALLPI), Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sudan and ARSO Secretariat from Nairobi. Apology was noted from South Africa. ALLPI was represented in this meeting by Harrison Mungai (the Institute’s Leather Value Chain and Tannery Expert.
The technical harmonization committee is currently chaired by South Africa and Zimbabwe is the secretariat. However, in this year’s meeting South Africa did not attend therefore Nigeria through Mr. Joshua Bitrus Dlagai (Head, Textile & Leather Laboratory - Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) was unanimously agreed to temporarily act as chair.
The ARSO Technical Director, Mr. Reuben Gisore, thanked and welcomed all the delegates who were present. In his opening remarks he highlighted how the leather and textiles sector is of great significance to Africa, as it is endowed with the resources. Therefore, the THC's responsibility was to harmonize African standards to support the leather and textiles value chain. He gave an example of how the African fashion is having global impact through the African fashion initiative; therefore it depends heavily on the deliverables from this committee. He further informed the committee that the initiative had held sessions in Marrakech Morocco, Nairobi and others countries. The focus now is on limiting the number of restricted substances that are used during the manufacture of leather and textiles goods.
He advised the committee that the Africa Free Common Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be in effect from July 2020. Therefore, the committee is mandated to check in the tariff book and the items identified under textiles and leather tariff headings to identify gaps and areas that need African standards.
He took this opportunity to remind the committee that 10 final drafts will be covered and one of the drafts has 15 parts. This meant that there was a lot of work ahead in which the committee was supposed to critically review the drafts in view of the impacts they will have on the African people, in particular the draft on reusable sanitary towels.
The Chair reminded the committee that less privileged African women and girls miss important roles and duties due to the unavailability of sustainable sanitary wear which can be greatly addressed by the reusable sanitary towels. Looking at the leather industry, he encouraged the committee to think widely and wildly in order to uncover unexplored areas that need standards in the leather value chain. He also noted that, the comments which were received from Ghana on the previously approved standards that are critical and would be considered in the next revisions.
This 6th meeting of the Textile and Leather Products Harmonization Committee (ARSO/ THC 07) was convened to deliberate comments received from member states on circulated final draft standards, approve them for adoption as African Regional Standards and identify new projects for future work in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).