AfCFTA: SON To Begin Regulation of Materials Certification Services

Ahead of the full implementation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commenced regulation of Management System Certification (MSC) services in the country. This, the Director General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, said would bring sanity into management system practice, and at the same time go a long way to eradicating quackery in management system practice.

In addition, Salim said it would also give Nigeria the competitive and comparative advantage to compete in the trade pact. Highlighting the benefits of MSC to trade, the Director General said MSC helped to improve productivity and efficiency, reduce cost for businesses, increase market share and gain access to new markets. He said the move was to put an end to uncertified and in- competent certification bodies who short-change the unsuspecting Nigerian consumers. Salim at a one day stake- holders’ engagement for the National Register for Conformity Assessment Practitioners (NRCAP) in Lagos, however, stated that the stakeholders’ engagement forum was important to reiterate that conformity assessment practice is very central to the sustenance of commercial success and continuity in all sectors.

He pointed out that the role of management systems practitioners was vital to ensuring that practices carried out by the industries are in alignment with international best practice in terms of the expectations of existing conformity assessment standards. Salim said: “In view of the importance of the authenticity and traceability of products and services, adjudged to have met the requirements of relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards and other approved specifications, SON seeks to pursue the implementation of, Part II, Section 4(d) and Part III, Section 5 of the SON Act No.14 of 2015, via the operation of the NRCAP scheme, in order to establish a directory of verified and registered Conformity Assessment Practitioners in Nigeria for all laboratories, Management System Consultants, Training Service Providers, certification bodies, inspection bodies, inspectors, auditors and assessors.”

He stated that the lack of regulations of the activities of practitioners over the years had negatively impacted the industry and country significantly, which includes poor protection of genuine practitioners from the negative impacts of unhealthy competition by quacks, poor visibility and recognition of genuine and competent practitioners capable of attracting patronage and partnerships for enhanced trade relationship and poor value for money for unsuspecting customers patronising quacks who deliver poor services. Salim also stressed that the unavailability of an official register of competent practitioners to aid national planning and coordination of economic activities that border on standardisation and quality assurance is also a challenge hindering professional management system practice in the nation.

The SON boss stated that the registration processes including approved guidelines, expectations of benchmarking conformity assessment standards and interests while developing the documents were taken into consideration to ensure that the impartiality.