By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
A two days training for journalists and media professionals is currently underway at the Kairaba Beach Hotel organized by the West African Quality System Programme (WAQSP) under the aegis of its focal point, The Gambia Standards Bureau (TGSB).
The training, which started yesterday, 8 September, and ends today, has brought together 20 participants from the print and electronic media journalists from of both the public and independent media houses.
In his introductory remark, Ousman Sillah, a resource person and the chair of the opening session, said the main objective of the training ensure that journalists and communication experts acquire a basic knowledge on quality issues and concepts so that they can be able develop and disseminate articles or news stories on these issues as well as on the activities of the WAQSP in the Gambia. He noted that the training is being organized by the WAQSP which is under the purview of TGSB that serves as its focal point/institution tasked to oversee its implementation. He said the Programme is a successor or an extension of the previous West Africa Quality Programme Phase II which was inspired by an earlier but successful similar programme in the French speaking ECOWAS countries (UEMOA), adding that it is executed ECOWAS, implemented by UNIDO and funded by EU.
“At the outset, the West African Quality System Program, has recognised the importance of the media in work it is task to do and the role they can play as a key stakeholder in accompanying it in the accomplishment of the set objectives,” said Mr. Sillah.
He added that this is a five year program which has started this year (2015).
In his remarks, Joseph Ndenn, National Technical Coordinator (NTC) of WAQSP the Gambia National Coordinator WAQSP, gave a brief background history of the second phase of the Programme i.e. WAQP in the country which started in 2007 and completed in 2012. He said through its initiative and funding, WAQP was responsible for the formulation, promulgation and establishment of numerous quality related policies, legislation and institutions. He cited the Quality Policy, expansion of mandate of the Gambia Competion and Consumer Protection Commission, creation of The Gambia Standards Bureau (TGSB), Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA), support to the Metrology, Public Health, NARI and Fisheries laboratories and training of personnel on quality related issues, among other interventions.
Mr. Ndenn noted the support being given by the European Union (EU), which is funding the implementation of the Regional Quality Policy for ECOWAS (ECOQUAL).
“This is aimed at establishing a framework for the development and operation of suitable, relevant, efficient and effective quality infrastructure to facilitate intra-regional and international trade, protect the consumer, the environment, and promote sustainable economic development,” said the WAQSP NTC.
He said the WAQP has enabled the beneficiary countries to build what is known as their National Quality Infrastructure (NQI).
On the expected results, Mr. Ndenn said at the end of the training, journalists and media professionals would have acquired the technical capacity to cover the activities in the field of quality, in general, and WAQSP, in particular.
Mr. John Oppong – Otoo, resource person and WAQSP NTC for Ghana, in brief remark on expectations, said trade is important in any country’s development and as such countries most therefore create the enabling environment to facilitate trade.
“Obviously, one of the key components of trade is standards and it is key for every country. That is why it is a need for every country to develop the capacity of journalists and media personnel to be able to use and disseminate issues on standards,” he said.
He said one of the main objectives of the training is to create the quality awareness and instill quality consciousness among journalists or media professionals on quality and standards.
Mr. Opong – Otoo added that it is expected that after the training, media professionals will be able to understand and become ambassadors in quality promotion.
In his opening statement, Mr. Papa Secka, Director General of The Gambia Standard Bureau (TGSB), after welcoming the participants, said the WAQSP was launched in 30th June 2015.
Mr. Secka described the training as serving as a unique opportunity for participants to learn further about the objectives and work of WAQSP as well as the overall quality system of the Gambia.
The DG of TGSB serves as the focal point of WAQSP in The Gambia. “Issues coming from the main implementing body which is UNIDO, relating to the Regional Quality issues, but also pertinent to National Quality Infrastructure will be deliberated and a national consensus biuilt.
He expounded on the work of TGSB in relation to WAQSP and what is expecte to be accomplished at the national level.