The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has urged Nigerian businesses to step-up product quality for Africa trade, saying 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.
Removing the barriers, he said, was particularly important as the country seek to expand exports to the rest of Africa in the African Continental Free Trade Area, and to the rest of the world.
Osinbajo 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.”
Speaking on Tuesday at the opening session of the virtual “Open-Day with MSMEs” organised by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the vice president noted that the country was aware of impediments in the business environment and was working assiduously in removing the bottlenecks.
“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, Osinbajo 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, Osinbajo said that 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.
Similarly, the vice president 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.”
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.