The Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Ezra Yakusak has stated that 36 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) exporters had been certified further to enhance the country’s non-oil exports.
He also said the council is currently working to address the frequent rejection of Nigerian exports especially by the European Union among others.
The Nigerian economy was largely driven by the non-oil sector, which accounted for 92.51per cent of GDP in the third quarter of the year (Q3 2021) according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The oil economy contributed 7.49 per cent to growth in the same period.
Addressing the beneficiaries at a brief ceremony in Abuja, Yakusak said the cardinal objective of the project was to encourage value addition against the export of raw agricultural produce.
He pointed out that the certification would enable the SMEs compete favourably in the lucrative international markets while getting premium pricing for their products.
He said, “It will also facilitates SMEs access to certified niche non-oil export international markets and to compete favourably in the lucrative international markets while getting premium pricing for their products.
“You are all aware that penetrating international markets for processed and value-added products, particularly food items require additional voluntary certification to enable the products access overseas market.”
He, particularly noted that accessing global markets had become stricter due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, which requires tougher inspection regimes at border control points in importing countries.
According to him, “Accessing global markets has become stricter due to the on-going pandemic, which requires tougher inspection regimes at Border Control Points (BCPs) in importing countries.
“These stricter and increasingly competitive requirements imply therefore, that exportable food items must strive to acquire additional non-mandatory certification(s) to enable it compete globally.
“Non-mandatory certifications (e.g. ISO, HACCP, GMP, etc.,) are global certification, trusted by consumers and end-users of products and services, and are attained, based on the reputation of the certifying bodies.”
He also said the Export Expansion Facility (EEG) programme would be leveraged for the certification of more SME exporters in preparation for the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA).
He added that the main objective was to encourage value addition against the export of raw agricultural produce.
Yakusak also said in the council’s efforts to curb the high rate of export rejection and to build the capacity of exporters, it had engaged a reputable certification expert, Top Certifier, based in Bangalore India, to provide certification awareness training to manufacturers and producers.
He said, “The India based company guides companies and organisations certification for ISO, CE, FSMS and other international certifications and have successfully executed over 3,000 projects across 20 countries.
“In the vein, the council also collaborated with the German Cooperation International (GIZ) in implementing the Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP) to support key value chains in Nigeria by promoting structural transformation and improving access to regional and international markets through certification in order to conform with pre-requisite international food safety standards in alignment with benchmarked global standard and global value addition.The certifications under this collaboration include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), ISO 22000:2018 and ISO 9000:2015.”
Also, NEPC Director, Product Development, Mr. Williams Ezeagu, said the council adopted the ‘Go Global, Go For Certification’ to ensure that the SMEs compete favourably in the international markets.
He explained that the initiative, including the NICOP programme had a total of 40 SME exporters that benefited from the certification projects including the 26 that will be awarded HACCP, Halal, USFDA and ISO 22000 certifications.
He said, “It will also facilitates SMEs access to certified niche non-oil export international markets and to compete favourably in the lucrative international markets while getting premium pricing for their products.”