The move comes following recent proliferation into the country of non-quality cement products by local dealers. However, the day also provided better opportunity for those involved in cement trade to highlight some of their bottlenecks and obstacles in the smooth conduct of their businesses.
Addressing the gathering, Ebrima Musa Jallow, director of Standardisation at The Gambia Standards Bureau, explained that The Gambia Standards Bureau (TGSB) was established by an Act of Parliament in 2010 under the Ministry of Trade as the National Standards body of The Gambia to standardise methods and products produced or consumed in the country and for connected matters.
In addition, he said other functions of the Bureau include the implementation of the National Quality Policy and to improve the quality culture of citizens by raising awareness, information-sharing and training.
He explained further that they have four divisions at the Bureau and one of the bureaus deals with standardisation; a division responsible for the development of all standards and promoting standards that are being developed.
"We developed standards through technical committees: national experts from all sectors that sit in a round table discussion to adopt standards that are published in our national gazette as national standards."
The other division, he said, is conformity and assessment division, which is responsible for inspection, testing and certification of products in relation to public standards.
Assan Gaye, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment, reminded that the Ministry is responsible for both policy development and formulation that facilitate trade and create employment to boost the economy.
"It also plays a central role availability of the industry and the wider value chain to ensure that cement and other relevant products within the value chain are standardised. It has come to the notice of the Ministry that presently as far as the industry is concerned, there is a challenge with the influx of cement that are competing with our local cement."
To that end, DPS Gaye said the Ministry took it upon itself to support the local industries to promote their growth in line with conformity assessment procedures to ensure quality and national standards are met in the country.
He equally reminded stakeholders of the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), acknowledging that it is a wider market as far as trade is concerned.
"In our quest for industrialisation and to prepare the country for the ACFTA, it is therefore paramount that we protect our industries in line with WTO protocols." he added.