By Emeka Anaeto
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, is ramping up measures to stem wide circulation of substandard products of imports and local manufactures.
The quality control agency is also working on ensuring Nigeria’s products are competitive in quality for the purposes of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA.
Speaking to journalists last week in Lagos, the Director General of SON, Farouk A. Salim, said SON is currently conducting a market survey to assess the level of such poor quality products to ascertain the nature, type and origin of imports.
But he lamented that the absence of SON at the ports of entry had forced it into open market raids for imported substandard goods, a practice he admitted was not the best the organization could do.
Despite this challenge, he said SON is strengthening its inter-agency collaboration to check substandard products and faking, particularly with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) due to the health implications.
Salim, however, said it is beyond the agency’s jurisdiction to do anything on return policy, saying that this is an issue for government to government based on bilateral relations and agreements with the countries where the products are being imported from.
He added that the agency is in the process of reviewing the existing SON Act 2015, with a view to strengthening its power and increasing the penalties for some offences.
It also plans to bring back identification marks to enable consumers to check for quality assurance in a more sustainable way, as opposed to current practice where you buy the product and scratch and text the numbers to a short code for confirmation.
Salim noted that with the implementation of the AfCFTA Nigerian producers and manufacturers must up their games to compete effectively.
He stated: “We advise Nigerian exporters to seek advice from SON before attempting to export any product to avoid rejection in foreign markets.”
Salim explained that enforcing standards go a long way in boosting economic growth.
He disclosed that SON has also signed Memorandum of Understandings, MoU, with a number of state governors to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to standardise their production processes, packaging, labelling and others to make their products exportable.