Standardization has once again been identified as one of the crucial ingredients to achieving optimum benefit from Nigeria in the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), as it would promote the much needed growth in industrialisation for rapid economic development.
The Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Osita Aboloma Esq. alluded to this at the AfCFTA 2-day National Forum organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in conjunction with the Federal Government of Nigeria, the African Union (AU), European Union (EU), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in Lagos.
Aboloma, a guest discussant at the forum tagged “Gearing up for AfCFTA: The Critical Readiness Requirements” disclosed that standards and standardisation remain fundamental for the country to achieve rapid industrialisation and indeed a key element for the nation’s economic growth through participation in intra African trade.
According to Aboloma, represented by the Director Standards Development, Mrs. Chinyere Egwuonwu, SON has developed Quality Infrastructure in areas such as laboratories, metrology, standardisation and accreditation including legal and regulatory frameworks necessary for industrial development and global competitiveness.
He stated that for Nigeria to further harness the benefits of AfCFTA, SON is at the forefront of harmonizing standards at regional and continental levels to eliminate the multiplicity of same and thus promote seamless trade within Africa.”It is also involved in Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for the acceptance of quality marks, test results and certifications issued among National Standard Bureaus (NSB) in Africa,” he said.
This according to him, “Is to ensure that Nigeria takes off at the blast of the whistle, so we are not left behind in the race for the African market share, because we have all it takes to grow the nation’s economy through the trading of commodities that are competitive and of good quality in markets within the continent”.
The well attended forum had the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments Otunba Niyi Adebayo represented by Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as the Guest of Honour, with representatives from MAN, NACCIMA, development partners, government agencies and captains of industry, MSMEs and several other relevant stakeholders respectively.
The objective of the forum include to analyze Nigeria’s preparedness in trading with other African countries under the AfCFTA in other to impact positively on the growth of the nation’s GDP through industry and commerce.
One of the conclusions of the forum include the need for concerted advocacy in identifying inadequacies with a view to improving on them and focusing on products and services where Nigeria has comparative advantage within the African region.