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SON Steps Up Battle to End Rejection of Nigeria’s Non-oil Export in Global Markets

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Over the years, Nigeria’s non-oil exports to the European Union (EU), United Kingdom and other parts of the world have suffered heavy rejects due to failing to meet sanitary and phytosanitary measures to gain access into the foreign market not to even talk of competing internationally.

According to a recent statistics, between 2012 and 2013, Nigeria recorded the highest number of 102 rejects in the global market when compared with other countries in the African continent. This situation has further dented the country’s image courtesy of the huge amount of rejects, where Nigeria recently ranked as the biggest economy of Africa still has to depend on its neighbouring country Ghana to export its products to the world.

The good news is that, non-oil exports have received a major boost thanks to Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON’s) newly accredited chemical and food technology laboratory, where products after being tested and certified by the SON will no longer be subjected to any kind of testing anywhere in the world. The laboratory according to SON will help to prevent huge financial losses the country had lost over the decades.

Indeed, the effective utilisation of the internationally accredited microbiology laboratory is expected to mitigate a potential loss of about $6.9 billion projected to be incurred from rejections of export items by developing countries to developed nations this year as projected by a recent World Bank report.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga during the commissioning of the laboratory expressed delight, saying that the laboratory’s accreditation is in the process of being expanded to cover areas of micro nutrient, cable, refrigeration and cement construction material.

Aganga stressed that the laboratory is an integral part of the national quality infrastructure the federal government is building for the country.

“It is a shame that as a nation after 50 years, we never had one and this is what this administration is leaving behind for. For the first time in history, we now have a quality policy which took us a long time,” he said.

He added that the plummeting oil price is a wakeup call as a country, saying that the nation can no longer depend on one product for foreign exchange. He said the time when the country was a mono-product economy has gone, adding that this is the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) was launched to create value addition to all the nation’s commodities.

The Director General, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu said the new laboratory will put an end to Nigerian goods being rejected in the international market, saying that the laboratory is for a specific competence which boasts of conducting chemical and biological testing for agricultural products in the country.

He said this is the first time a Nigerian laboratory is being accredited, maintaining that it is worth celebrating because it will save the economy a lot of cost from the nation’s goods being destroyed and rejected at the foreign markets.

He urged SMEs to take advantage of this golden opportunity to push their products to the world, pointing out that the laboratory is coming at the backdrop at a time when some of the country’s agricultural products being rejected. He said Nigeria has now entered a stage which he called the map for world quality due to the recent launch of the laboratory
Meanwhile, Chairman, Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko said the significance of SON’s world class food and chemical laboratories is very pivotal to the nation’s rapid economic development, particularly now that the manufacturing and agriculture sectors are being emphasised in the country’s national development discourse.

He pointed out that for a long time, Nigeria has suffered from the absence and lack of internationally certified facilities to serve as impetus for the country’s efforts towards economic diversification and export promotion.

He said as stakeholders in the nation’s industrial sector and indeed other non-oil productive areas, his company has been under negative effects of over-dependence on oil and imported goods while the nation’s local products continued to experience market resistance locally and internationally.

“However, it is heart warming to know that we are on the way to redressing this situation with what SON has done. The accredited laboratories would boost the nation’s diversification and export promotion drive. One cheering news and indeed a key positive development from SON’s establishment of the accredited labs is that once local products are tested and certified, they are automatically accepted to have met local and global standards.

He said Nigeria has all it takes to be a net exporter with its abundant human, material and natural resources, saying that the country cannot afford to remain largely import dependent.

He counselled that Nigeria must strive to improve exports of raw materials and industrial goods for improved balance of trade with its global trading partners, noting that the standardisation of locally manufacturers’ products in line with acceptable world best practises is a key requirement in this regard.

“We will surely benefit immensely from SON’s accredited labs. I suggest that SON should continue on a proper sensitisation campaign which would enable the SMEs and agro allied operators across the country to key into the latest development. On our part, as a manufacturing enterprise, we will continue to support and collaborate SON in its committed efforts to drive the nation’s economy through appropriate standard elaborations.

He stated that if standards are maintained and adhered to, fake and sub-standard products would definitely go out of circulation and would pave way for the nation’s agro-allied and other industries to thrive.

He said SON owes a duty to facilitate the development and accreditation of private laboratories across the country for the use of small and medium scale enterprises.

“Granted that standards are SMEs and market driven, today’s products, especially locally produced ones, require regular standard reviews in order to meet global competitiveness. SON should not relent in its efforts to evaluate products or sectors in dire need of standard reviews, so that we will continue to march along with the rest of the world,” he said
The Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo said some of the factors responsible for the rejection of exported food item include non-compliance with regulatory requirements for processed and semi-processed commodities, non-compliance with documentation requirements, incorrect filling of information for entry.

He noted that developing countries including Nigeria seem to face considerable problems in meeting food safety hygiene requirements for exporting food items to developed countries, and said it is therefore of immense challenge to meet standards requiring more sophisticated monitoring.

He said it is pertinent to commend SON for this noble effort at the launching of these laboratories coming up after SON’s spearheading role in the setting up of the national quality infrastructure project funded by the EU and implemented by the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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