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Analytical Chemistry Division (V)
Chemistry and the Environment Division (VI)


Number: 2004-017-1-500

Title: Standardization of analytical approaches and analytical capacity-building in Africa

Task Group
Walter R. Benson

Members: Malin J. B. Åkerblom, Jan Åke Jönsson, Geoffrey Kamau, David Moore, Albert E. Pohland, and Nelson Torto

This project seeks to upgrade selected laboratories in Africa, thereby enabling them to produce reliable and internationally accepted analytical results for farmers and enterprises in the private sector that seek to export commodities to markets in the USA, EU, and Japan, where compliance with international standards is required.

The recent World Bank book Standards and Global Trade states that "trade is a crucial driver of growth." The book reveals, however, that farmers and firms in African countries, including Kenya and Uganda, are unable to reap the potential income for the growth of their economies from trade on foreign markets, for their governments fail to provide them the services of a well developed regulatory infrastructure with competent laboratories that can ensure their commodities comply with international standards.

Our project will addresses these constraints that block desired gains from trade by carrying out a pilot activity that first evaluates local needs and then brings appropriate remedial measures to bear on selected laboratories in Kenya and Uganda. Through these two phases, we seek to raise the capability of these laboratories to the level where they produce reliable and internationally acceptable analytical results in testing commodities and thereby facilitate the effort of the farmers and enterprises in the private sector to export their commodities on international markets.

Phase I: Investigation of Requirements and Capabilities
The first phase of the project will involve seeking information not only about the regulatory systems and analytical laboratories in these countries, but also about the specific export interests and possibilities among the farmers and entrepreneurs in the private sector of both countries.

Hence, we will seek information about each country's current policy on promoting trade, its existing regulatory infrastructure, the relations between its trade development agencies and farmers groups or small and medium enterprises, etc., as well as the capabilities of a country's analytical laboratories and their understanding of international standards. These and other pertinent issues requiring our attention exist on three levels. First, on the policy level, our concern is the country's commitment to trade development and hence the degree to which it considers our intervention with the selected laboratories of importance to its economy.

Second, on the strategic level, there are a number of substantive issues that pertain to our work with the laboratories. We will need to contact authoritative sources in each country, whether these be government organs, commercial firms, associations of small and medium enterprises, or collectivities of farmers regarding these issues and seek answers to identify key export commodities and markets, relevant international standards, responsible regulatory authorities, and laboratory expectations.

Third, at the operational level, we will consider the following crucial issues during the concluding stage of project preparation, when our scientists travel to Africa to meet the manager and scientists of each laboratory: outlining the specific trade-related responsibilities expected of the laboratory; diagnosing the inadequacies of a laboratory; selecting the appropriate remedial measures; and scheduling over the life of the project (2 to 3 years) the implementation of these measures.

Phase II: Remediation of Analytical Capacity
Our pilot project will implement the various remedial measures by collaboration between scientists from IOCD, IUPAC, and other partners with the managers and scientists of the selected laboratories. This collaborative approach will be aimed at applying the appropriate remedial measures to raise the laboratory's level of performance.

Remedial measures to be implemented in the second phase will both include human capacity building (e.g., short- or long-term fellowships for African staff scientists at laboratories in developed countries, visiting lecturers to work with laboratory staff, and organization of workshops) and laboratory up-grading (e.g., repair and maintenance, procurement of new equipment, adaptation and adoption of standardized methods and approaches to local conditions). The support and involvement of IUPAC will be particularly critical in the following remediation activities:

a) Human capacity building

  • i). Awarding of short- or long-term fellowships for staff scientists or managers of a laboratory in relevant specializations at laboratories in Europe, USA, and Africa (in particular, South Africa and Botswana).
  • ii). Arranging short- or long-term visits by foreign consultants to the African laboratories to assist local staff scientists learn specific disciplines or techniques.
  • iii). organization of workshops at the African laboratories on topics such as up-to-date laboratory methods of analysis, good laboratory practice, pesticide analysis, etc.

b) Laboratory up-grading

  • i). laboratory investigations by the African laboratory's scientists so as to implement and adapt internationally harmonized approaches and analytical methods within the context of local conditions.
  • ii). Organizing a laboratory's participation in a proficiency testing exercise with an accredited laboratory.The specific set of trade commodities to be analyzed (e.g., fruits and vegetables, processed oils) and analytes (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins) will be identified as part of Phase I of the project.

> Nov 2004 report update (pdf file - 13KB)

> May 2006 report update (pdf file - 16KB)

> Update/review published in Chem. Int. Nov/Dec 2006


Last Update: 8 November 2006

<project announcement published in Chem. Int. Mar/Apr 2005>

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