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AfCFTA: How Nigeria strategises to curb influx of substandard products

The quality of goods and services is as important as the availability of such items as consumers would always insist on having value for their…

The quality of goods and services is as important as the availability of such items as consumers would always insist on having value for their money.

In recognition of this, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has the mandate of ensuring the enforcement of protecting the country from the influx of fake and substandard products and their effects.

However, as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) comes on stream, there are concerns about the influx of substandard and fake products.

AfCFTA is said to be the largest in the world since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 and with this, it is now or never for Nigeria to tighten its standards towards ensuring that poor goods and services do not gain their way into the country through the trade liberalisation policy.

But the Director-General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, recently spoke to journalists at a workshop in Lagos about how prepared the agency is to tackle this when it comes up.

The head of SON confirmed that it is expected that there will be an influx and distribution of substandard and life-threatening products, but SON was working ahead of this projection.

He pledged his readiness and that of the management team to make SON better by building on existing structures and past achievements.

Salim said, “Some of our staff members have undertaken training programmes with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on the operations of the NCS11 code.

We are also in discussion for full integration into the process for operational access and control of SON regulated imports.

“When fully achieved, it will assist us to a very large extent in preventing substandard products from entry into Nigeria without any delay at the ports.

“This is because we have invested in facilities near the Apapa, TinCan and Onne ports where quality verification of suspected substandard products can be carried out,” Salim said.

He further disclosed that SON state officers nationwide have been directed to intensify market survey activities to monitor the performance of locally certified and imported products in the marketplace.

Salim then enjoined Nigerian manufacturers to ensure their products conform to international standards through testing and compliance with the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS), if they are to maximise opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.

He also gave a review of some milestones at the agency, 10 months after he assumed office as the helmsman of the agency.

One of such is that he raised an independent committee to evaluate the operations of SON towards repositioning the agency especially in improving synergy with stakeholders in the various sectors of the economy.

He also said the capacity of the National Metrology Institute is already being enhanced with the acquisition of new equipment for calibration activities on diverse areas of measurement like flow and volume.

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