PHOTO: Representative of African union commission, Mr Chinyama Oswald (left); representative of Enugu state governor, Chief Cornel Onwubonya, Director General Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Mr Osita Aboloma and chairman Intra-Africa metrology system (AFRIMETS), Dr. Denis Matini during 12th AFRIMETS meetings in Enugu.
Stakeholders in over 25 African countries plan to ensure a significant increase in the assessed low level of trade through the deployment of metrological infrastructure.
They met at recently at the 12th AFRIMETS General Assembly and Related Meeting in Enugu, Enugu state, where the focus was how to deploy metrology to boost trade in Africa. The forum hosted by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON),stressed that the imperative of developing, strengthening and upgrading the national metrological infrastructure to facilitate trade, enhance export, accelerate economic development and protect the environment cannot be over emphasized.
Significantly, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi- reaffirmed the State government’s support to SON to deliver on its core mandate, including supporting the agency’s huge investment in the establishment of a National Metrological Institute in the state capital-Enugu.
In the Governor’s words: “As a government, we will continue to pledge our necessary support and assistance towards the attainment of SON’s quest to rid Nigeria of sub-standard products. We have seen that the road leading to the institute is bad and we will definitely do something about the road, because we believe in this project to bring about the much needed development in the State,” he said.
Ugwuanyi stressed that the importance of metrology cannot be overemphasized, adding that it helps to bring about uniformity in trade and serves as a mechanism to ensure that the unsuspecting Nigerian consumers and Africans at large are not shortchanged of their hard earned money.
Earlier, the Director General (DG), SON- Osita Aboloma,disclosed that the present administration- through SON- has committed huge resources to human capacity development in metrology and instrumentation.
He added that SON has- over the last few years- made concerted efforts at creating awareness on metrology services and their benefits to the nation’s economy and the welfare of her people. The DG explained that Nigeria’s hosting of the technical committee meetings and general assembly of AFRIMETS was to further boost stakeholders’ awareness of the benefits of metrology to Nigeria and the African continent at large.
While restating SON’s efforts at driving the national quality infrastructure project, Aboloma said Nigeria’s membership of AFRIMETS and other continental and global standardization bodies has been a deliberate effort in ensuring that the nation participates actively in inter-laboratory comparisons amongst National Institutes of Metrology (NMIs).
According to him, over the last three decades, SON- with the active support of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) and encouragement from its development partners like United Nations Development Organization (UNIDO) and others- have made huge investments in developing human capacities in the field of metrology.
The DG also stated: “I must state however that we still require a lot more training to update the capacities of our NMI staff. We therefore look forward to more support from our development partners in that area. “We have also committed huge resources into developing material capacity in collaboration with our development partners- UNIDO- as you could see at the NMI site.’’
Remarkably, two former DG’s of SON-Dr Joseph Odumodu and Dr Ndanusa Akanya-corroborated Aboloma, even as they justified the huge investment by the agency on the institute. To Odumodu,
standardisation must co-habit with metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment. He stressed: “This project is a dream come true, and I can tell you that Africa will benefit immensely from this project because Nigeria is a very large economy. This National Metrology institute will provide services even beyond Nigeria. This project as soon as it takes off will actually begin to show that Nigeria has come of age as an industrialised economy”.
Akanya was consumer-focused. According to him: “Metrology is as old as man, and it is the science of weight and measure. If you use a wrong measurement, you are cheating. People selling rice by the road side know how to cheat consumers because of lack of adequate measurement. But, now that we have got the infrastructure, our voices will be louder. We have to educate the society about the impact of metrology on trade. Those people weighing products on scale will be asked to bring their scales for calibration. We have got a whole lot of jobs to do, but awareness is key to achieve this feat”.
The Chairman, AFRIMETS- Mr. Denis Maturi- said the thrust of the event was to take its meetings to Africa, trying to create awareness on the impact of metrology in intra-African trade.
‘‘This project is in line with the African Union’s effort to facilitate trade within the continent,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, Governing Council, SON- Mr. Edet Akpan- said creating awareness in the science of accurate measurement in Africa and assisting in the development and strengthening of metrology infrastructure within the continent are necessary impetus for industrial growth, through improved competitiveness of products from Africa.
He added that metrology is one of the components of Nigeria’s national quality infrastructure project that is central to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the present administration.
As for the Regional Director, UNIDO, Jean Bakole, SON’s metrology institute is the first Institute in the country, stressing that the institute would help to add value to goods manufactured by Nigerian companies to gain acceptability in Africa and world over.
“The Institute will go a long way to add to the value of products coming out of the manufacturing industries. It would also ensure that all products coming out of this country are well calibrated to meet the required standards for African trade. This is a big achievement and going forward, we will need the best experiences from different African countries present here to drive metrology,” he said.
Lauding the Institute and stressing the importance of metrology, the Managing Director (MD) of Juhel Nigeria Limited, Dr. Ifeanyi Okoye-described metrology as one of the essential infrastructure that Nigerian manufacturers have been asking for to enable them endorse whichever trade agreement the government intends to sign to boost trade in Africa and beyond.
According to the MD, ‘‘what the Origanised Private Sector (OPS) operators are saying is that government must provide the infrastructure to support the manufacturers; and the metrology institute is one of the infrastructure needed. Metrology is one of the infrastructure needed by the manufacturers to showcase their products anywhere in the world”.
By Marc Philips