Nigeria: SON Equips SMEs for Global Competitiveness.

angya-paul-sonStandards Organisation of Nigeria develops standards for 15 agricultural produce- DG

SMEs in Nigeria can be categorized into urban and rural enterprises, but in a more formal way they can be called Organized and Unorganized enterprises. The organized enterprises have paid employees with a registered office while the unorganized enterprises are mainly made up of artisans who work in open spaces.
Agriculture and manufacturing are the preferred sectors of an economy and therefore the bedrock of economic and technological advancement.

Manufacturing firms are catalysts for industrial and economic development. They also play active role in international trade and foreign exchange earnings. As such, most countries encourage investments in industries.

In Nigeria SME’s scenery so many factors are fighting against members’ operation. They are summarized thus:
Poor and deteriorating infrastructural services, compounded by collapsed electricity supply which impacted
negatively on capacity utilization;
Deepening weak domestic demand arising from lack of consumer purchasing power;
High and unplanned inventories caused by lack of patronage and distress in aggregate domestic demand;
Unbridled influx of cheap imports of sub-standard, fake and used products, including dumping of all manner
of finished goods-all in the name of trade liberalization;
High costs of funds arising from depreciation of the Naira against major currencies coupled with high lending rates and extreme difficulties in accessing credit for working capital, particularly by small and medium-scale industries;
Policy inconsistency and anomalies in customs duty, including the absurd case of a 5 percent increase in the duty rates of some raw materials since January 1999, while imported finished goods witnessed a corresponding reduction in duty;
Continuing harassment of companies by some state and local governments over unauthorized multiple levies,
taxes and charges in spite of the clear position of the law on the matter;
Inadequate funding and lack of working capital for small and medium scale industries as well as weak
institutional structures;

One important strategy used by China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil- nations with large populations in their quest for industrial and economic development was strong internal demand/consumption of their manufactured goods and repositioning and repackaging of local produced products ready for international patronization by partnering with SME’s and end of the day Jobs is created and massive revenues generated locally and internationally.

Determined to promote the economic diversification agenda of the present administration who having identified SMEs as the engine room for driving the economy due to their contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the face of globally dwindling oil revenue, SON has refocused its energies and campaign towards Agricultural and Agro-allied products SON under Acting Director General, Dr. Paul Angya administration has taken its functionality more critically of Educating members of the NASSI of collective responsibility for production of quality products by self-regulation of all practitioners. National Quality Infrastructure for economic advancement.

There are well over 10 million SMEs in Nigeria and are essentially critical avenue not only on revenue generation but to job creation.

However, can be recalled, Of recent Nigeria’s agricultural commodities have suffered rejection abroad in recent times for failing to meet international quality standards situation such our local beans where greeted with face of rejection at international market arena.

Producer of such products may have the genuine intention to manufacture quality products but infrastructurally and strategically lack the capacity to do so.

The major challenges confronting the realisation of exporting value among products produced by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is that the manufacturers are not aware of their customers’ requirements and prevailing standards and the issue of knowledge and information about customer requirements, issues of standards and the expectations of the market not basically a times dos snot rest on tables of non-quality of the items.

Proffering the solution, SON has come up with strategically partnering with SMEs on causing products attractiveness through better packaging, quality standardisation, designs and clarifies each export requirements.

SON tirelessly, busy, collaborating with other relevant agencies, to establish a national quality infrastructure to enhance earnestly yearning rapid economic development which entails supporting NASSI in repositioning the association for better service delivery to advance the cause of small businesses in the country, fostering credible associations to stimulate the uptake of standards for sectoral self-regulation as is currently the practice in developed countries.

The function of support agencies in small and medium scale industry is to facilitate the promotion of entrepreneurship in Nigeria. SON has these three roles: Participatory, Regulatory and Facilitating.

Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) fall into actualizing it by recently sponsoring National Congress of the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) conference in Abuja. A sensitization programme, on dual function of carrying out activities that are necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions: Products. Regulation and Standardization.

Director-General of SON, Dr. Paul Angya in his opening speech at the flagged of the week- long event, restated SON commitment to the mapped out goals,

He stated, “This programme today is designed to educate members of the association on their collective responsibility in determining the performance of the sector through production of quality products by self-regulation of all practitioners,’’

While expressing the commitment of the Organisation, advancing the cause of small businesses, Dr. Angya said, “SON believed in fostering credible associations to stimulate the uptake of standards for sectoral self-regulations”.

Stressed further “The performances recorded by the cable industries in Nigeria as one of the best in the world stemmed from the collective responsibilities of the sector to embark on self-regulatory measures to upgrade their products to where they are today,” he said.

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) DG used the opportunity to disclose the organisation developed plan on standards and codes of practice for 15 priority agricultural products to enable farmers and dealers in Commodities produce quality products for export, to avoid the cases of rejects, as it was in the recent case of beans.

SON boss called for collaboration of relevant agencies inclusive of NASSI body to join hands in developing relevant standards that will regulate what we produce the performance recorded by the cable industry in Nigeria as one of the best in the world stemmed from the collective regulatory measures.

“The association on its own part had set up a consultancy centre where SMEs will be enlightened on ways to improve on and package their products” Angya emphasized.

Earlier The National President of NASSI, Engineer Ezekiel Essien cited the purpose of the congress was for showcasing the potential of the association to stir economic diversification and NASSI members and entrepreneurs in the productive sector account for 70 percent of job creation in the country and rank second in the GDP index nationally.

Essien lamented that in spite of the huge contributions of small scale industries in job creation, poverty reduction and wealth creation, they were not given the needed support to thrive and that poor organizational approach, poor financing and poor products packaging were the major challenges facing the sub-sector.

However, worthy of note that
many SMEs hiccups in meeting market demand standard are due to financial constraints, these operators need funds to package these products and produce on larger scale to be able to compete with imported products and that is only legs they need to walk all talks.

No matter the standard SON set, if funds are not made accessible and available without much cumbersome roadblocks by relevant specialized agency like BOI and BOA, there cannot be a way forward.

Standardization is not the issue now. SMEs have so many problems at hand which government has not been able to resolve over the years,

NASSI reaffirmed members of periodic capacity training on fund accessment and the association advisory role on improvement in the management efficiency of cooperative managers and organizational productivity and location of the. cooperative societies and partnering to ensures for sound loan repayment history for members.

Funding of agricultural programmes and the extending of credit to farmers would now be directed solely through cooperative societies, NASSI advises, due to its more reliability and effective in disbursing funds.

The congress is a step forward as it provided a common forum for stakeholders to rob minds and proffers solutions at least woes of operators were heard and SON and its relevant agencies present, were able to earmarked the lines and provide torches for clarification purposes, all efforts geared towards stamping safe agriculture produce are for local consumption and export purposes as well would be able to compete internationally and contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

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