Nigeria’s Institute of Public Analysts (IPAN) sees both threats and opportunities arising from Africa’s most populous country signing up for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA seeks to establish a single market for goods and services across 54 countries, allow the free movement of business travellers and investments, and create a continental customs union to streamline trade – and attract long-term investment. Clinching Nigeria’s agreement and moving into the operational phase in July 2019 was a significant step.
IPAN, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Health is a professional regulatory body of public analysts. Public analysts ensure the safety and correct description of food by testing for compliance with legislation.
At the second edition of its Business Network Breakfast Series (IBNBS), the institute brought in other quality assurance regulators to explore how Nigeria can benefit from the continent-wide trade treaty.
“This is the most auspicious time to organise our business breakfast network on the trade treaty given that most companies are having strategy sessions now to plan for the year. We intend our deliberations today on this continent-wide trade agreement to help companies better position themselves to take advantage of showing the role of conformity assessments and laboratory tests in making goods competitive,” Aliyu Abdullahi Angara, registrar and the chief executive officer of IPAN said.
Officials from the Standard Association of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), who honoured the event with their presence acknowledged that the sheer size of the Nigerian market means many businesses across the continent will want to have a piece of the pie.
This is also a big opportunity for made in Nigeria goods and services, if Nigerian businesses adhered strictly to the quality standards required by the African Organisation of Standardisation (ARSO).
“Quality assurance for made in Nigeria goods is critical if the country is to profitably participate in the continental trade agreement. As a country, we need to take our membership of the African Organisation of Standardisation (ARSO) seriously by ensuring strict compliance assessment standards. Quality sells,” said Osita Aboloma, director-general, the Standard Organisation Nigeria (SON), represented by Mojisola Kehinde, director, Laboratory Services at the SON.
To achieve accurate laboratory testing of products, experts say laboratories must have the necessary equipment to undertake the test it is required to carry out. Personnel must have adequate skills and competencies and laboratory equipment must be calibrated regularly. Laboratories are also encouraged to undertake inter-laboratory tests and proficiency testing.
“Nigeria’s micro, small and medium enterprises need access to single-digit credit facilities, infrastructure and an easier environment to do business if they are to compete favourably. The MSMEs have been orphans,” Adebayo Olu-Adams, chairman Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) told BusinessDay in an exclusive interview.
Nigeria may be the largest economy in Africa but there are several countries with businesses that have the scale to compete with Nigerian businesses in terms of productive capacity, exports and logistics. Additionally, there are smaller countries with the comparative advantage to penetrate the Nigerian market.