Abubakar:  National Quality Infrastructure to Support Growth of SMEs

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By James Emejo in Abuja

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar has said the federal government is working to establish a robust National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) to help transform industrial processes and systems to make locally manufactured goods and services competitive enough for the international market.

She said this would help to fully diversify the economy from oil and provide the requisite infrastructure to support the growth of over 37 million Small and medium enterprises by enhancing their productive capacities and processes.

To this end, she said the National Accreditation Body (NAB) would soon come into force to effectively help to manage the Nigeria Accreditation National Service (NINAS) which had also been registered and deploying the structure in accordance with the West African accreditation system as agreed upon by member states of ECOWAS in 2013.

“One of the major challenges for the growth of small businesses had been their inability to produce products that are internationally certified for exports-part of the reasons being that there’s currently no accreditation body to facilitate such approvals,” she said.

Speaking in Abuja at the opening of the 7th African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC)’s General Assembly and Meetings, which is being hosted by the Standards Organisation  of Nigeria (SON), the minister noted that the benefits of the availability of the services to SMEs could not be over stated as it would enhance the competitiveness of their products, thereby availing them unfettered access to both domestic and international markets.

She said:” This is the surest way the speedy economic development of the country can be guaranteed given the fact that SMEs form the bedrock of the economic development of most countries.”

Also speaking at the occasion, the erstwhile acting Director General, Standards Organisation   of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Paul Angya said the meeting aimed to chart a new course for Africa through the establishment of bodies that will endorse the competences of regulatory processes through accreditation.

He said SON, being the national standard body, had continued to provide technical competence and support for the implementation of the NQI programme in order to surmount the challenges that hindered business engagements with other countries.

He said: “We had issues of consignment rejection, under developed metrology laboratory among others. It is important to note that SON has midwifed the establishment of the NINAS and the Nigeria Metrology Institute (NMI) in Nigeria and is providing the technical support and other resources.”

He said when fully functional, NINAS will help Nigerian businesses gain the relevant knowledge in accreditation processes and its importance to trade as well as reduce the high incidences of rejection of goods in the international market.