IAF Liaisons

Quality Infrastructure (QI): A Rising Topic for Development

Results from the World Bank Group Survey of QI Development Partners

Bin Zhai, QI Specialist bzhai@ifc.org,
Wafa’a M. Aranki, QI Global Lead waranki@ifc.org

The Quality Infrastructure (QI) system comprises the organizations (public and private), policies, and relevant legal and regulatory frameworks and practices needed to support and enhance the quality, safety, and environmental soundness of goods, services, and processes. QI is expansive and comprehensive: it encompasses core elements (standards, accreditation, and metrology) and conformity assessment services (testing, inspection, and certification).

Why is Quality Infrastructure important for the country’s development?

The World Bank Group surveyed the QI development partners to map the QI technical assistance and support worldwide and understand their areas of interest. Respondents championed QI reforms; they have supported QI programs in 143 countries. The survey was shared with bilateral and multilateral development partners, and 50% of them responded between December 2019 to March 2020.

Main highlights from the survey results:

  • Respondents’ engagement in supporting QI development

All the 14 respondents are currently engaged in the QI area through national (79%), regional (79%) and multilateral (57%) programs. Half of them provide support directly, and another half through implementing agencies. The total annual funding of all respondents is equal to $253 Million.

  • QI areas of development work

Standards reform is the dominant QI area for development work (79%), followed by metrology (64%), accreditation (64%), technical regulation (64%), TBT agreement implementation (64%), inspection (57%), certification (57%), testing (50%) and market surveillance (43%).

  • Types of support provided

Most supporting efforts go to the area of capacity building, and training programs (93%), while technical assistance and advisory services receive (86%) of the support. Other types of support include financial support (lending and/or grants, 57%), knowledge, analytics, and diagnostic studies (57%), and hard infrastructure (29%).

  • Regions

QI programs are active in 143 countries in all regions: South Asia receives (86%) of the support, Africa (79%), East Asia Pacific (71%), Latin America and the Caribbean (57%), Middle East North Africa (50%) and Eastern Central Asia (50%).

  • Information sharing

Most respondents (93%) share the information of their QI projects with other donors and agencies/organizations through website, publication, and meetings.

Conclusions and future work

There are growing opportunities to support QI development in Middle-income and Low-income countries. Through implementing WBG QI programs, it was noted that governments had recognized the importance of developing effective, efficient and internationally recognized QI services: for governments, a QI system empowers relevant trade and industrial policies and ensures compliance with mandatory technical regulations and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures; for businesses, a modern, efficient QI system helps limit the cost of production, increasing productivity and technology transfer, and enabling firms to be more competitive in domestic and foreign markets; for consumers, a QI system ensures public health and safety as well as environmental and consumer protection.

It is inevitable for development partners to raise awareness about the importance of QI in supporting the countries’ goals of achieving sustainable growth and development and ensure that QI systems are in line with the demands of the private sector and the regulatory authorities across the trading partners. It is also essential to ensure that the development partners collaborate and coordinate to ensure that our client countries receive the most optimal support according to available resources, competencies, and skills across the development partners.

QI work would be even more prominent during and post COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that products and services primarily in the medical sector and the food sector conform to the set standards. Advanced QI services and mutual recognition agreements among trading partners are fundamental for governments’ efforts to provide the needed medical products and ensure food safety and security in the most efficient, effective, and sustainable manner.

To learn more about the QI work of the World Bank Group, please visit www.worldbank.org/qi.

Categories: IAF Liaisons