Director General of the Standards Organisation, (SON), Farouk A. Salim, has restated the commitment of his agency to support Nigeria’s estimated 40 million Small and Medium Enterprises to break into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, through effective standardisation of their products.
This was even as he hinted that SON might lobby National Assembly to increase penalties on standardisation breaches in subsequent amendments to the SON Act so as to compel manufacturers and importers to learn to play by the rules.
Salim who spoke at a breakfast meeting in Lagos yesterday, expressed concern about current status of the nation’s import export products, promising to collaborate with sister government agencies, including EFCC, NAFDAC and the Ministry of Justice to address the situation.
He explained that it was against this backdrop that SON had initiated a partnership agreement with some SMEs to see how they can be supported to play actively in the novel African Continental Free Trade market which formally kicked off on January 1 2021.
According to him, SON’s ability to enforce standards for Nigeria and other West African countries will help companies to create more jobs for the teeming youths of the country.
“We have visited a number of SMEs across the country to see how we can partner with them through the standardisation of their products in readiness for the export market. We have already sanitised the environment for lubricants, steel sector, cables and many other products in the country as more of such inititiaves are still ongoing especially as the AfCFTA offers a good opportunity for Nigerian SMEs to export to West Coast and into sub-sahan Africa. Today our cables and wire products are among the best in the world. This is because our laboratories are among the best in Africa.
The SON boss however lamented the influx of substandard products into the country, while urging Nigerians to change their habits and lifestyle to de-emphasise consumption of imported products now taking a toll on the nation’s foreign reserves.
On enforcement of standardisation breaches over the last twelve months, Salim said the agency has recorded nine prosecutions including one granted bail after spending six months in custody of the law enforcement officers. He also assured that the Federal Government might likely adopt stronger sanctions at bi-lateral levels with other trading partners to ensure that the influx of substandard goods into the country is curtailed.