The National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) project will enhance the competitiveness of Nigerian products in the international market, experts have said.
The NQI, funded by the European Union (EU), is targeted at enhancing safety, integrity and marketability of Nigerian products in the international markets.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) assists the federal government in implementing the NQI strategic framework.
“One of the best ways to ensure that Nigerian manufacturers and companies take advantage of the opportunity to export within the ECOWAS sub-region, the African continent and beyond is to make sure that Nigerian goods and services can compete in the global marketplace,” said Patrick Kormawa, UNIDO representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
“The goal of the National Quality policy is to stimulate and facilitate more opportunities for the private sector, small and medium-sized companies, traders and farmers, including youth and women,” Kormawa said.
The National Steering Committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to develop the Nigeria NQI Green Paper met to deliberate on NQI implementation plan last week.
Through the NQI Project, over fifty institutions including the federal ministries, government regulators, the organised private sector and professional bodies brought their sector-wide knowledge into the multi-stakeholder process facilitated by UNIDO to enhance the Draft Quality Policy.
Joseph Odumodu, head of secretariat for the NQI project for Nigeria said: “So far, market institutions have been created. Trainings for capacity has been done. In Nigeria, we now have an accreditation facility. Regarding metrology, which is a key factor for exports to industrialised world, government has designated a National Metrology institute for that and construction is on.”
Odumodu said the project is training and building capacity of institutions involved in standardisation and enforcement, adding that the private sector has shown determination to work with the certification agencies.
“We are making a case for four items that we have agreed on, that is, melon, brown beans, shea butter and leather. We would really make a case for improving quality and allowing market access” Odumodu, who is also the director-general, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, noted.
Juan Casla, the EU head of section for trade and economic governance, said the Union will assist Nigeria to always improve on quality to meet global competitiveness.
“The EU is an important market for Nigeria. With the quality infrastructure master plan, we would be able to ensure Nigeria does not have rejects because of its huge market to Europe,” Casla said.
Chima Ezedimma,UNIDO regional officer, said: “We want to ensure that the accreditation body, the metrological institute, meets the required standards. We need to keep working with the Nigerian government to improve the livelihood of the people that are on this. The non-oil export is the way to go for Nigeria and we would keep working with relevant government agencies to ensure we improve on what we do at the moment.”
ODINAKA ANUDU &HARRISON EDEH