The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has been selected to lead other West African countries to pioneer the implementation of the Economic Committee of West African States Quality Policy.
The Head of Public Relations of SON, Mr Bola Fashina made this known in a statement in Abuja last Thursday.
Secretary-General, African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), Mr Hermogene Nsengimana made the announcement during a two-day capacity building workshop on the Implementation of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) in ECOWAS in Abidjan.
Hermogene expressed the need to strengthen the regional effort in implementing the ECOWAS Quality Policy (ECOQUAL) in spite of the domestication of the NQI by all member states in their respective countries.
This, according to him, necessitated the initiation of a pilot programme to be championed by the National Standards Boards of a select eight member countries.
The countries are Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana and Nigeria.
ECOQUAL is a policy ratified by member states of ECOWAS as the Abuja accord in 2015.
This is to harmonise standards of goods and services, balance trade and build capacity for regional testing and conformity assessment.
The programme is being supported by ARSO, Afrexim Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Hermogene said in recognition of Nigeria’s pole position in the implementation of its National Quality Policy, Director General of SON, Mr Osita Aboloma was nominated as Chairman and Coordinator of the pilot scheme.
Others are the Chief Executives of Ghana Standards Authority and the Nigerien counterpart nominated as Vice Chairman and Secretary respectively.
Meanwhile, Aboloma expressed Nigeria’s preparedness to partner with other ECOWAS member states in the newly initiated pilot scheme to bolster the ECOQUAL implementation of harmonised standards and removal of technical barriers to trade.
Aboloma said that the National Metrology Institute Complex in Enugu was at an advanced stage of completion.
He said ISO Quality Management System certification of SON, international accreditation of some of its laboratories and ongoing process of accreditation of its conformity assessment services, management systems training and certification were added advantage.
Active Mobile Subscribers Hit 210m In Nigeria
The total number of active mobile subscribers increased from 208.6 million in July 2022 to 210 million in August 2022 with teledensity of 109.99 per cent.
In the same vein, internet subscribers also exceeded 152.2 million, with broadband penetration standing at 44.65 per cent.
Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communication Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, disclosed this at the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) Day at the 17th Abuja International Trade Fair on Tuesday.
Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Efosa Idehen, said in this new environment, the competitiveness of Nigeria’s SMEs depended on the ability to leverage new technologies by acquiring the necessary digital skills to do business on an international scale.
He said the steady growth in the telecoms sector over the years with its persuasive positive impact on all other sectors of the economy in terms of increased automation of processes and digital transformation in service delivery had been remarkable.
To sustain this, he said, “the NCC continues to create conducive environment that stimulates deployment of robust telecoms/broadband infrastructure for improving the quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for telecoms consumers, both individuals and corporates.
“This is because, as a country, we need robust telecoms infrastructure that will help our SMEs to transit to becoming Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-driven if we hope to be digitally competitive on the global stage.”
He said the Commission was working assiduously with various stakeholders to see how more businesses would embrace digital platforms for delivering their services to the consumer.
“Indeed, digitalization of the SME sector of the Nigerian economy is strongly connected to telecommunications, giving the power the telecom sector has to positively disrupt traditional business models. This explains why the growing demand for connectivity is pressuring telecom companies to upgrade their telecommunications infrastructure.
“As a result, network transformation has become far more imperative for innovative businesses, allowing them to address changing customer expectations”, he said.
Danbatta noted that the NCC was driving initiatives for full launch of the 5G network in Nigeria, noting that spectrum licenses for the companies that would roll out the service had been issued.
reau, NCC, Mistura Aruna, said as regulator of the telecommunication sector in Nigeria, the Commission ensured service availability, accessibility, affordability and sustainability for all categories of consumers who were leveraging ICT/Telecoms to drive personal business.
Idehen said the theme of the trade fair, “Creating an Export Ready Market through SME Digitization” could not have been made a better time, noting that it coincided with the time the Federal Government approved the deployment of the 5G technology.
Sambo Assures On $350m Cabotage Fund Disbursement
Minister of Transport, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has stated his commitment to disburse the $350million Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
He expressed his willingness to break any jinx inhibiting the disbursement of the 19-year old revolving loan fund, designed to help indigenous ship owners acquire vessels, noting that the disbursement of the CVFF will further boost shipping activities in the country’s maritime sector.
Giving the assurance in a statement by the Assistant Director, Public Relations, Osagie Edward, the Minister reiterated the commitment of the Ministry to work with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which warehouses the fund currently estimated at over $350million.
Making the vow when he visited NIMASA Headquarters in Apapa, Lagos, in company of the Minister of State, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Sambo said the fund will be disbursed to deserving beneficiaries,
He called for more synergy between NIMASA and other parastastals under the supervision of the Ministry,in addition to the Nigeria Navy, and members of the Nigeria Armed forces, towards ensuring the success of the deep Blue project.
While commending the management of NIMASA over its capacity development initiatives in the maritime industry, he also lauded the agency for remaining focused in the delivery of its mandate, noting that it has upgraded its image from what it used to be a decade ago.
“NIMASA of today has come a long way from the NIMASA I knew 10 years ago. I commend the entire management and staffers of the agency for raising the bar.
“It is now a symbol of team work. I am impressed with the customer experience centre and your efforts to attract young Nigerians into the maritime industry via your various capacity development projects, including the essay competition for secondary school students”, he said.
Speaking the Director General (DG) of NIMASA, Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, briefed the Minister on some of the activities of the agency in deveoloping a robust maritime industry.
Such activities, he said, include: obtaining approval for physical and monetary incentives for ship owners to purchase brand new vessels at zero duty, and assisting them get foreign exchange at the Central Bank of Nigeria rate.
This, he explained, is to help phase out old and rickety vessels from the nation’s waterways and encourage more participation in the Nigerian shipping industry.
Jamoh also informed the Minister that under the Deep Blue Project, 600 Special Forces from the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Department of State Security, among others are undergoing training for special skills to ensure effective implementation of the Project.
The intention, he said, is to ensure that the nation’s waterways remain safe from all forms of criminalities.
He further disclosed to the Minister that over 2,000 Nigerians have undergone trainings under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) scheme, out of which about 800 are actively engaged on various ships, with a huge number of them working on board the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) vessels.
He added that NIMASA is developing a National Ship Building and Infrastructure Development Strategy, aimed at bridging the gap in capacity building for trained Nigerian seafarers.
Other achievements listed include enhanced maritime safety administration through effective Ports and Flag state inspection on foreign and Nigerian flagged vessels, Enforcement of safety regulations on barges and tug boats through Operation Sting.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
FG Targets 10m MSMEs In Single Digit Credit Scheme
President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is planning to ensure that at least 10 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have access to soft credit at a single digit interest rate in a proposed small scale empowerment scheme.
He also said the Federal Government is keen to help MSMEs achieve their full potential and has developed strategic policy interventions, enshrined laws and established institutions to create a supportive business environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs.
The President made the disclosure, Tuesday, at the opening ceremony of the 17th Abuja International Trade Fair.
Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Minister of indutstry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said to achieve the plan, the Trade and Investment Ministry has developed a programme that will enhance access to credit for over 10 million MSMEs at single digit rate.
“Aside from provision of finance, this project will address key ecosystem issues such as development of MSME clusters to lower operating costs as well as capacity building initiatives,” the President said.
In addition, he said, the Ministry has also commenced the process of adopting a centralised automated platform for the registration of Trademarks, Patents and Designs.
He continued that the overall objective is to fully digitise existing records and automate the registration process to enable ownership and commercialisation of innovation.
The Federal Government, the President stated, has also approved fiscal incentives for MSMEs, which includes exemption from Company Income Tax and Value Added Tax for enterprises with annual turnover of less than 25 million Naira. The Pioneer Status Incentive also grants tax holidays for start-ups across multiple sectors.
He, therefore, called for focus on how MSMEs can be energised as vehicles for economic growth.
On his part, President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Al Mujtaba Abubakar, challenged small scale businesses to embrace technology in order to advance their business operations.
He said digitization offers a range of opportunities for SMEs to improve performance, spur innovation, enhance productivity and compete on a more even footing with larger firms, reflecting: economies of scale; lower operation and transaction costs; and reduced information asymmetries.
Abubakar said the 17th trade fair will also strengthen trade and investment opportunities in the country, thus, offering a neutral and open atmosphere for blue chip companies, trade groups/associations, and government.
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