SON Seeks Enhanced Quality Infrastructure to Drive Economic Diversification

  •   Plans agreement with China to stem influx of substandard products

Crusoe Osagie

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has emphasised the urgent need for an effective and well-implemented national quality infrastructure policy to help the country achieve its goal of a diversified economy.

The agency stated that most developed economies of the world placed priority on a clear-cut quality infrastructure model to get to where they are, noting that Nigeria must follow this path to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon resources.

The Director General, SON, Dr. Paul Angya, explained that the major reason Nigerian products face rejection at the international market is due to issues of quality, pointing out that the country still lacked a defined, acceptable and implementable quality policy to be competitive at the global market.

Angya during a capacity building programme organised for media executives in Lagos said: “We have for long had issues of quality even in our local production where products have not been able to compete internationally and this is why sometimes we have substandard products overshadowing our locally produced goods. We have had all these issues because Nigeria has not had a defined, acceptable, implementable quality policy.”

However, the SON boss announced plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Republic of China to stem the flow of substandard goods from China to Nigeria, saying that efforts to put pen to paper to curb this nefarious activity had proved abortive over the years.
“We have been calling for a MoU with the Chinese government to compel them to say that the same applicable standards obtainable in Europe also applies to Nigeria, but as we speak, they have refused to sign that MoU. We are hoping that with the new government, some pressure can be brought to bear on the Chinese authorities to sign that MoU and do their part in stemming the flow of these substandard products to Nigeria. We are hoping in the next one week to engage the Chinese authority on this issue,” he said.

According to him, the national quality policy defines the national quality infrastructure, stressing that apart from laying down rules and regulations, the policy makes a survey of the global market situation and defines the modalities to trade at the international market.

He added: “The previous administration could not approve the national quality policy because it required approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and since 2015, we have been on the job to get the government to adopt the national quality policy and the concomitant national quality infrastructure. This model has worked elsewhere and it is believed that if it truly comes on stream and we have institutions that evaluates laboratories and also give accreditation to test our products for the export market, only then we will be ready for diversification.

He said going forward, the agency has refocused its national efforts on agriculture to play its own part in the nation’s quest to diversify its revenue sources, maintaining that to tackle the issue of rejection, the agency had developed and identified over the last one year, priority agricultural products that are very attractive at the international market.

“We are refocusing in tandem with the government on the agricultural sector. Our mantra is that these products should be market driven. We have over 200 standards on agriculture. We have sufficiently built capacity to be able to impact the national drive for diversification using agriculture as a plan for this development,” he said.

He said other measures to ensure that Nigerian products are competitive and attractive, the agency submitted a concept paper to the ministry of industry identifying the food value chain in order to showcase the impact of standardisation on the agricultural sector to improve yield and access to the international market.

On the spate of building collapse in the country, he added that SON is organising a national workshop on building collapse which is scheduled to take place on the 6th of October in Abuja, saying that building collapse is one the most prominent issues in the past six months.

“We also realize the need to step up our campaign against substandard tyres at this time. We are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign against substandard tyres between now and December to save lives. We are rolling out in the next one week a platform where we have designed an identification, emblem for approved dealers where dealers whose products have been verified to conform to standards will be given some prominent emblem which will be customized for them and would also be difficult to fake. This will help consumers identify genuine goods,” Angya noted.