Although the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has expressed readiness for the imminent implications of Nigeria’s signature to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, recently accented to by the President, it noted that checking the influx of substandard goods will be challenging with its absence at the ports.
SON said it has been working in close collaboration with other Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) as well as development partners to develop the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI), to cater for the free movement of goods and services in Africa. These assertions were made by the Director General, Osita Aboloma, while responding to a media interview on the AfCFTA in Abuja. Aboloma acknowledged the imminent challenge of combating the possible dumping of substandard and life-endangering products through the seaports since the agency is not present to carry out quality verification of products on arrival.
He however maintained that SON officers will continue to deploy all strategies including the use of automation, intelligence gathering and compliance monitoring to protect Nigerian consumers from the menace of substandard and life-endangering products within available resources. He enumerated some of the NQI projects already delivered by SON to include a National Metrology Institute nearing completion in Enugu, international accreditation of SON laboratories, its training and management systems certification services as well as ongoing automation of all services to stakeholders. These, he said, are aimed at promoting the ease of doing business in and with Nigeria, adding that SON has been championing the harmonisation of standards within the ECOWAS region and the African continent through the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO).
He said Nigeria, through SON, holds the Chairmanship and Secretary of many of the Technical Harmonisation Committees of ARSO, in addition to promoting the participation of many stakeholders in Nigeria in the standards harmonisation process. Aboloma identified other preparatory steps towards the free movement of goods and services to include the development of standards for artisanship such as carpentry, masonry, fashion design, painting among many others to ensure free exchange of the services particularly within West Africa. He equally extolled the existing robust collaboration among sister regulatory and security agencies in the fight against substandard products, and called for greater synergy, stressing that no efforts should be spared in trying to protect the nation’s economy and the welfare of its people.