Osinbajo urges Nigerian businesses to step-up product quality for Africa trade

In an increasingly integrated African continent, all hands must be on deck to ensure that limitations to product quality and technical barriers to trade are removed, while improving the market acceptability of made-in-Nigeria products, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this today at the opening session of the virtual “Open-Day with MSMEs” organised by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
According to him, “this is particularly important as we seek to expand our exports to the rest of Africa in the African Continental Free Trade Area, and indeed to the rest of the world.”

Continuing, the VP explained that improving product quality “is integral to market entry and market share”, adding that “our failure to adhere to international standards for product quality will continue to limit the market acceptability of our products and poses the risk of rejection and non-acceptance of ‘Made in Nigeria’ products at home and abroad.”

He said that “we are fully aware that Nigeria’s aspirations for a highly competitive economy will remain unfulfilled if we do not create a business environment that is conducive for your businesses to thrive. Among other factors, a friendly business environment engenders productivity while ensuring that products and services meet the highest standards.”

On initiatives designed to improve quality of export products, the VP expressed hope that the SON event would “further educate MSMEs on recent efforts to improve product standardization, including the Nigeria National Standardization Strategy (NNSS) document, and the National Quality Policy document.”

He said, “the National Standardization Strategy released by SON in 2020 takes cognizance of Nigeria’s priorities and serves as a reference document in integrating our standardization needs.

Furthermore, the National Quality Policy, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) early this year, will help reduce the infrastructural burden of meeting local and global quality requirements.”

Underlining the significance of government’s support for MSMEs, Prof. Osinbajo said MSMEs account for approximately 48 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and continue to play a vital role in providing jobs and keeping the economy running despite economic challenges heightened by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on other MSMEs initiatives by the Buhari administration, the Vice President said “there are a plethora of programmes which this Administration has specially curated to support MSMEs, such as the cross-cutting, systemic business climate reforms of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the National MSME Clinics, with provision of Shared Facilities Centres, some of which have been established in Benue, Lagos, and Anambra States, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) to mention a few.”

Similarly, Prof. Osinbajo highlighted how the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) “helped the economy to exit recession speedily by increasing the chances of survival of our MSMEs in the thick of the pandemic.”

Prof. Osinbajo further pointed out Government’s support to MSMEs in the digital and creative sectors through a collaboration with the African Development Bank on a $600m programme on Investing in Digital and Creative Enterprises.

The VP, however, noted that “these interventions will not be sustainable if a deliberate culture of ensuring compliance with global standards and regulations to attain quality benchmarks is not inculcated.”

“The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) through its mandate as the National Standards body has the capacity to provide Nigerian MSMEs with the required support for the production of quality goods to make you competitive across Africa and globally,” he added.

The Vice President commended the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; and the Minister of State, Ambassador Maryam Katagum; as well as the Director-General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, for their respective efforts towards facilitating an enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive.

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