By Franklin Alli
STANDARDS Organisation of Nigeria says it has been building the capacity of local manufacturers to mass-produce quality products for domestic market and export. Dr. Paul Angya, Acting Director General of the agency, disclosed this while fielding questions from Vanguard on what SON is doing in current quest by the present government towards import substitution manufacturing.
“In Nigeria, long before President Muhammadu Buhari came on board and instituted his programme of finding alternatives to oil revenue, SON had started the programme of encouraging local production and we introduced Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme, MANCAP, certification.
“The certification is aimed at ensuring that all locally manufactured products conform to relevant Nigeria Industrial Standards, NIS, which is also international standard, before they are presented to the consumers.
“We insist that products manufactured in Nigeria must meet acceptable global standards. It is part of what we have been doing and we are still doing it, that is, building the capacity of operators in our local industries, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, because they are the engine room of economic development. So, we have structured projects of offering technical assistance and certification to SMEs.
“Most time, we offer these services free for them to know how to meet the standard, know how to process, package and label their products.
‘’Since President Buhari came on stream, the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, was adopted for implementation. Under the NIRP, which is to grow alternative sectors to oil, SON was given specific assignments, first being to build a national quality infrastructure for Nigeria and all these I have been telling you about standardisation and quality issue is built into it.
“It prescribes the basic minimum precepts that if imbibed by people, by the government, industries and everyone in Nigeria, it will culminate into delivering quality to Nigerians and quality to Nigerian products and they can compete anywhere in the world,” he said. He noted for instance, that the recent rejection of Nigerian beans in the EU market was not because of quality but certification issue.
“Without laboratories, your products cannot sell outside your country because what your trading partners are looking for is evidence that your products can sell outside your country and where do you get the evidence, if not from laboratories.
“So, we produce agricultural products in Nigeria and we take them to sell abroad and they are rejected not because they don’t meet the required standards but because they lack certificate of evidence and why they don’t the have certificate of evidence is because there is no accredited laboratories in Nigeria that can test those products and certify that they meet that standards.
“There are thousands of laboratories in Nigeria but they are not accredited laboratories because there are no accreditation institutions in Nigeria. So, this is a relevant quality infrastructure that will evaluate laboratories from the premises where they are to the equipment in the laboratories to the personnel who are running the laboratories and issue certificates that the environment is conducive for this kind of test, that the equipment is sophisticated and sufficiently provided to run this kind of tests; that the personnel are sufficiently skilled to run this kind of test.
“When all these are put together and they get pass mark, then the accredited service will give you an accreditation that you have competence to run this test. When they give you the certificate, then, the laboratory can now run the test.”