Prior to 2013, Nigeria was experiencing trade imbalance as a result of increase in import of goods some of which were of very poor quality. Although there was no substitute production for a large number of imported substandard goods, Nigeria had a promising industry that required support to improve the quality of its products.

In spite of being one of the largest economies in Africa, Nigeria lacked an internationally recognized National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) with the capacity to ensure safety, integrity and marketability of goods and services and the removal of technical barriers to local, regional and international trade. Although Ministries, Departments and Agencies were saddled with the responsibility of ensuring standardization of products in Nigeria, there was still the need for an internationally accepted body. For commerce and trade to thrive, there is a need for the introduction of an international accepted standard for assessing the quality of products made in Nigeria.

Within the 10th European Union (EU) — European Development Fund (EDF) Country Strategic Paper and National Indicative Programme for 2008–2013, the European Union approved the sum of €12,000,000 for a programme to support Nigeria’s competitiveness in trade and investment especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This would be achieved through improving the business and investment climate as well as developing missing standards and quality control bodies. The programme was to be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO); who provided a part-funding of €80,000 under the coordination of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The aforementioned lays the foundation for the establishment of the National Quality Infrastructure Project (NQIP); which was designed to put in place necessary infrastructure and international regulatory framework intended to create global acceptance of Nigeria’s products and services; which will in turn boost the competitiveness of the Nigerian economy in the international market.

The NQI project was launched on 19 July 2013, with an inception phase and concluded in July 2018, with a total project time-frame of 60 months. The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments (FMITI) and its dependent agencies are at the center of this initiative.

On 27 January 2014, the EU-Nigerian Competitiveness Support Programme was launched in Abuja. The event was jointly chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Dr. Olusegun Aganga; and the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS Mr. Michel Arrion. The launch event was co-hosted by the European Union (EU), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), represented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO); it was attended by high-profile representatives from the Government MDAs, multilateral and bilateral development partners, the private sector, and other stakeholder groups.

The main beneficiary institutions are the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Weights and Measures Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Conformity Assessment Bodies (including private CABs), organized private sector (NACCIMA, MAN, NASME, etc.), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Consumers Protection Council (CPC) and Consumer Associations.

Objectives of NQIP:

The overall objective of the project, which is one of the three components of the EU private sector Support Programme, was to support the enhancement of the national quality infrastructure.

Others are:

· To strengthen the FMTI and LGA to improve the business/investment climate for SMEs (implemented by GIZ).

· To support the development of the missing standards and quality control bodies and encourage improvement of the quality of products and services exchanged in the Nigerian markets (implemented by UNIDO).

· To support effective management of trade policy and trade facilitation.

· To improve business and investment climate in Nigeria.

· To provide support for the setting-up of a National Quality Infrastructure (NQI).

Impact of the Programme on Nigeria

The programme had seven components, namely; Quality Policy, Technical Regulations, Accreditation, Conformity assessment, Consumer protection, Metrology and; Standardization.

The project aimed to achieve the following:

1. Promulgation of National Quality Policy (NQP) and ensuing legislation for the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) is improved.

2. Establish an internationally recognized National Accreditation Body (NAB) in coherence with the West African accreditation system.

3. Development of a National Metrology Institute (NMI) to ensure calibration of instruments and traceability of measurement to international standards.

4. An improved capacity of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) to create and/or support Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs).

5. Improved capacity of Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Organized Private Sector (OPS) to raise awareness and promote quality for better consumer protection

Quality Management Systems ISO 9001 is one of the most widely implemented standards globally. In 2013, the number of ISO 9001 certificates was 1,126,460 worldwide, with Nigeria recording only sixty-five, far behind South Africa, Egypt and Tunisia. The EU-funded National Quality Infrastructure Project in Nigeria, implemented by UNIDO, has made significant progress in advancing the training and capacity development of Nigerian Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) in the area of quality infrastructure (standardisation, accreditation, metrology and certification).

The impact of NQIP on the Nigerian economy can’t be over-emphasized, the establishment of quality assurance institutions and the development of standard operating procedures; Conduits of Excellence, in order to achieve zero export rejection on Nigerian agro-products has helped Nigerian products increase in quality and value, and subsequently provided a better access to export markets. UNIDO’s technical assistance also supported the creation of several domestic quality institutions, including the Nigerian National Accreditation Service (NiNAS) and the National Metrology Institute of Nigeria (NMI) in Enugu State.

Additionally the project consisted of relevant training programmes, which equipped hundreds of national staff with the technical capacities needed to undertake quality assurance tasks. To-date, over 300 professionals are qualified to perform tasks under ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 22001. With the help of these professionals, nine local companies are able to perform certification for businesses.

As a result, for the first time ever, Nigeria was able to take part in the African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC) General Assembly in 2016 and received recognition of its own domestic accreditation body, NiNAS.

Furthermore, NQIP in partnership with Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) established of a dedicated Trade Information Portal for businesses seeking to export Nigerian products. Situated within the official website of NEPC the portal is poised to improve marketability of Nigerian goods and remove technical barriers to trade. The portal is also relevant to Nigeria’s commitment to a diversified economy.

Summary of Results

· National Quality Policy drafted and presented to the Federal Executive Council for adoption.

· Trained 25 Nigerian stakeholders from the National Notification Authority, National Enquiry Points and the Organised Private Sector on the provisions of the transparency obligations on the application of the World Trade Organization Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreements.

· Launched a nationwide promotional and awareness campaign on quality which was implemented in Nigeria from 29 January to 27 March, 2018, to advocate the concepts of quality infrastructure at the state level.

· Supported the establishment of the Metrological Society of Nigeria (MSN) to support and promote metrology and calibration activities and competitiveness in Nigeria.

· Establishment of National Accreditation board, National Metrological Institute, Enugu and National Technical Regulation bodies.

· Implementing 4 pilots on commodity value chains (dried beans, melon, shea butter and leather).

· The conduit of excellence developed now adopted by the government inter-ministerial task force on zero rejects of Nigeria exports.

· Quality Award organised for Nigeria.

· Establishment of ten training centres charged with the responsibility of offering three main courses known as ‘Train the Trainer’ courses — ISO 14001:2015, ISO 9001:2015, and ISO 22000:2005, with view of additional courses. The centres are;

Lagos: Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) Training Centre, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industries (LCI) Training Centre, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) Training Centre, Women Entrepreneurs Associations of Nigeria (WEAN) Training Centre, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Training Centre, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) Training Centre.

Abuja: National Productivity Centre (NPC) Training Centre, Consumer Protection Council (CPC) Training Centre, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Training Centre, Raw Materials Reserach Development Council (RMRDC) Training Centre

· In addition to the above UNIDO-NQIP also supported the establishment of Nigeria’s first indigenious internationally accredited Certification Body; NECA Global Certification Ltd, NGCL. In June 2018, NGCL was accredited by the Egyptian Accreditation Council (EGAC) to grant Certification in ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems to local and international organisations

· 162 persons from the organised private sector and government ministries, departments and agencies, were trained in ISO 9001 with a success rate of about 76%. 124 persons have been certified as Lead Auditors and Lead Implementers. 47% report that they have implemented the QMS standard in their organisations.

Below is an infographic representation;

Dr. Franklyn Akinyosoye, ISO 9001, 22000 and 14001 certified, mIOD, CMD, BDSP.

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