The Chairman, Export Group of Lagos Chamber Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Boson Solarin has indicted the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company(NAHCO) for allowing badly processed and packaged items and goods to be exported to other countries, thereby eliciting negative reactions.
This is just as she stated that reliable transportation is very critical to trade and development without which no trade can be successful.
The LCCI Chairman spoke at the just concluded second edition of Aviacargo Conference 2022, with the theme, ‘The Role of Insurance and Regulations in the Growth of Aviacargo and Export Business in Nigeria’ held in Lagos.
The LCCI that was saddled with the task of designing and delivering a National Aviacargo Export Masterplan for Nigeria by the organizers of the event, informed that the challenges identified at the maiden edition of the Aviacargo Conference by stakeholders exist and will continue to exist until the government agencies consciously aim at helping to mitigate and resolve some of these issues and not seeing themselves as being up there, while every other person is down beneath.
She listed the challenges to include: limited export production, limited/ or no capacity for certification/packaging of exportable products, infrastructural deficiency in the logistics and evacuation of exports, and low penetration and access to key markets.
She said allowing badly processed cargo to leave Nigeria is one of the reasons producers from Nigeria continuously receive negative responses and are not able to gain access to markets or compete with cargoes from other countries.
To buttress her point, she said, NAHCO for instance, should we continue to allow badly processed and packaged items/goods through this cargo sheds, no wonder, our products receive negative comments outside the country, I was worried the only time I went to NAHCO and saw what our people freight out of this country, and we allow them.”
On the challenge of limited export production, Solarin said that Nigerians are more interested in the importation of goods rather than promoting export, and that the more the government tries to make policies against this, the people devise ways to circumvent it.
According to her, “We must as a people develop the willingness to help this country out of its predicaments. We must deliberately embrace exportation through deliberate support to/for players in the sector.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), she informed has come up with various policies, but businesses/exporters are saying that they cannot be sourcing Foreign Exchange (FX) for payment of export charges, at very high rates and that the CBN still ask for the same FX at a very lower rate.
The exporters, the LCCI Chairman said are also complaining that the N65 incentive which when added together is less than N500, adding that this needs to be critically looked into, otherwise the RT200FX which is a CBN initiative aimed at raising $200billion in forex earnings from non-oil proceeds over the next three to five years may just be a cliché.
Speaking on certification, the LCCI boss, said that the National Agency for Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC) should certify production facilities, wondering why Nigeria should have many registration numbers for the same product such as plantain flour, calling on NAFDAC to register facilities and with facility numbers for each company as obtained at Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points(HACCP).
She advised the government to place less attention/emphasis on revenue generation for some agencies, as the disadvantages of such outweigh its advantages.
Solarin pointed out that despite the fact that NAFDAC is in Nigeria, the agency is still difficult to get.
She explained that there are many Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) now in production and that NAFDAC charges about N40’000 for one product with a maximum of 5 products that are allowable for registration for micro businesses, adding that whether that micro business has the capacity to do more does not matter to them, and where allowed.
The cost for one additional product (the 6th), according to her is N90,000 and NAFDAC still collects eight products each for laboratory analysis and when the costs are put together, it is a great burden on entrepreneurs.
In his words, “If we must move forward as a country, especially with African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) staring us in the face, NAFDAC should certify production facilities, why should Nigeria have many registration numbers for the same product eg. Plantain flour, why not just a registration of the facility, with facility numbers for each company as done by FDA and HACCP.”
She also pointed out that businesses are tasked daily by the Standards Organisation(SON)to get the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP), a mandatory product certification scheme put in place by SON to ensure that all locally manufactured products in the country conform to the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) before such products are presented for sale in the market or exported but that despite this there are no Standards to process the applications.
SON, she added, must do more, as it costs almost N1.5 million to get the minimum 3rd party certification HACCP that some countries still accept.
She recalled that in 2021 Nigerian Export Promotion Council(NEPC) bridged the gap when it paid to assist 120 exporters to get certified with HACCP and International Organization for Standardization(ISO).
According to Solarin, “More funding is required in this space if we must overcome the challenges, access to markets will also continue to be an illusion without proper and acceptable certifications”
She assured the gathering that LCCI is ever ready to partner with well-meaning Nigerian businesses and stakeholders to advocate for continued good governance and business ethics that will help resolve some of these issues.