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Import Standardization in Modern Nigeria

Trade facilitation has become a fundamental role, progressively seen by government as an important element of economic policy in today’s world. Standardisation of products is a worldwide industrial practice aimed at ensuring product quality. Governments have institutions whose duty is to formulate product quality standards and see to their enforcement. Companies that flouted industrial standards may be sanctioned or sued for infringement of regulations.

Nigeria imported US$36.5 billion worth of goods from around the globe in 2018, down by -18.3% since 2014 but up by 26.1% from 2017 to 2018.
Given Nigeria’s population of 203.5 million people, its total $36.5 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $180 in yearly product demand from every person in the West African region country.
There is no country anywhere in the world that leaves the production of goods and services without rules and regulations for quality assurance and public safety. Without standardization, greedy and unscrupulous companies would embark on the production of goods and services that lack quality. Only the monetary consideration would be the overriding factor. The negative impacts of the products on consumers would not be considered.

Nigeria importation model

Close to 85% of products imported into Nigeria come through the ports in Apapa, Lagos. Therefore, you should direct your attention to those ports to ensure your merchandise makes it through quickly and with no issues.

Apapa Port, Lagos Nigeria

Also, keep in mind that depending on your shipping point of origin (e.g., Asia or Europe), you should know how long it typically takes for imported items to make it to these ports. For example, products from China usually take 30 days to arrive at Lagos. Therefore, you should account for not only the time it takes for items to make it through inspection but also how long it takes for the items to arrive in Nigeria.

Product Registration

Before you make your first shipment, begin the process of registering your product. There are two major governmental agencies to keep in mind during this process: The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON).

Food and drugs imported will have to go through NAFDAC registration, while other products will go through pre-shipment verification through SON. The SON Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) was put in place so that Nigeria imports undergo verification and testing in the country from which they were supplied.

The SONCAP Certificate, which is issued by the agency, demonstrates that your products meet the applicable standards and regulations.

Clearing the Ports

After you have gone through the necessary certification and verification procedures, your item is ready to be shipped. Navigating the port system to ensure your shipment clears the port upon arrival takes insight and finesse, as clearing goods at Nigerian ports has greatly contributed to

For one thing, products which are subject to SONCAP certification must be accompanied by a SONCAP certificate, which is why it is important to know beforehand if you must obtain said certification.

Also, you will have to pay import tariffs, such as duties, levies, and value-added tax (VAT) on your shipment. Therefore, taking these fees into consideration ahead of time is crucial when it comes to pricing your products to help cover these import tariffs. Tariffs can be as low as 15% to as high as 70% depending on the goods being imported. You can find out the official import tariff for your products here.

It is evident that clearing goods at Nigerian ports can be more difficult in comparison to other countries. Therefore, instead of handling the import process yourself, you should consider hiring a local clearing agent who has the local expertise and insight needed to get your shipments cleared quickly.

This will help ensure your products make it into the country and will also mitigate any risks associated with maneuvering the importation system yourself.

Warehousing and Logistics for Nigeria Imports

Outside of making sure you’re able to get your goods cleared at the port as quickly as possible, it’s equally as important that you fully understand the distribution network in Nigeria and find a secure warehouse to store your merchandise. When searching for a place to store your products, make sure you take a few important factors into consideration, such as the accessibility of the facility, whether or not your product will be safe while stored there, the payment structures in place (i.e., monthly, yearly, or per shipment payment schedule), and the facilities product handling capabilities. The last factor is especially important if you are shipping fragile merchandise.

In particular, the procedures for quality inspection must ensure that procedures for pre-clearance audit and post-clearance audit that are according to specialized management field must be clarified; Goods subject to pre-clearance audit must be goods or goods of high risk and directly affecting epidemics, infectious diseases, people’s health, social order and security, social morality and custom and environment.

It is necessary to specify the order, time and steps for implementation of each procedure attached to the responsibilities of the State inspection agency for goods quality with the agencies and organizations involved in the inspection process; to determine the sampling, sampling time, sampling rate, sampling methods, responsibilities of agencies, organizations and enterprises involved in sampling and sending testing results; to clarify the method of implementation, requirements for dossier and simply the required documents; to publicize the payment method of fees and charges (if any) by electronic method in accordance with the implementation of administrative procedures on the National Single Window Portal; to specify the conditions and criteria on exemption from inspection, reduction of inspection or strict inspection, thereby evaluating the risk level and goods channel classification as well as taking appropriate inspection measures to shorten the Customs clearance time for goods of low risk.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) is the apex consumer protection agency in Nigeria. The Commission was established by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Act (FCCPCA) (Cap. 25, Laws of The Federation 2004). The overall mandate of the Commission is to protect consumers by taking both preventive and remedial measures.

Knowing your right as a Nigerian

Consumer Rights

1. Right to value for money:
Products and services MUST give value for money.
2. Right to Safety:
Protection from hazardous products, services, and production processes.
3. Right to Information:
Provision of information to enable informed consumer choice; and protection from misleading or deceptive advertisement and labelling.
4. Right to Choose:
Access to a variety of quality products and services at competitive prices. A consumer should not be compelled to buy products or services he/she does not need.
5. Right to Redress:
Redress for unsatisfactory products and services. A dissatisfied consumer is entitled to the 3Rs i.e. Repair, Replacement or Refund.
6. Right to Consumer Education:
Acquisition of the skills to be an informed consumer.
7. Right to Representation:
A consumer has a right to be heard and represented at fora where policies, regulations and standards affecting consumers are made.

Consumer Responsibilities 

Holistic consumer protection is a collective effort. Its actualisation requires input, not just from manufacturers, service providers and government, but also the consumer.
The consumer has the responsibility to:
1. Be Aware
Gather all the information and facts available about a product or service, as well as, keep abreast of changes and innovations in the market.
2. Beware
Be alert to the quality and safety of products and services before you purchase.
3. Think Independently
Make decisions about well-considered needs and wants.
4. Speak Out
Inform manufacturers and government of your needs and expectations.
5. Be an Ethical Consumer
Be fair and never engage in dishonest practices which affect other consumers negatively.
6. Complain
Inform businesses and appropriate regulatory authorities about your dissatisfaction with a product or service, in a fair and honest manner
7. Share Experience
Inform other consumers about your experience with a product or service.
8. Respect the Environment
Avoid waste, littering and contributing to pollution. Promote sustainable consumption by ensuring that what you consume does not impact on the environment negatively.

Government recent actions against sub standard product in Nigeria

Recall of certain Ford Fusion, Lincoln and Focus vehicles on account of manufacturing defect

On March 14, 2018, the Ford Motor Company in the United States initiated a recall. Approximately 1.4 million vehicles are affected by the recall. The purpose of the recall is that; on some models, steering wheel bolts could become loose and cause the steering wheel to potentially detach. This could lead to a serious accident. Ford admits that it has become aware of two accidents and one injury that may have been caused by the problem.
This particular recall applies to Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ models from model years 2014-2018. Specifically, every Fusion version; Fusion S, SE, Hybrid S, SE, Hybrid Titanium, Fusion Energi SE, Engergi Titanium, Fusion Sport, Fusion Platinum, Fusion Hybrid Platinum and Fusion Energi Platinum. With respect to Lincoln MKZ, the recall also applies to every version of the Lincoln MKZ, Lincoln MKZ Premier, Hybrid Premier and Black Label.
In addition to the above, but on a separate note, Ford is also recalling another 6,000 Fusion and Ford Focus models due to a risk of fire from a fracture in the clutch pressure plate. The relevant model years are 2013-2016.
Although the recall appears to be limited to North America, the Council is in the process of contacting local Ford dealers to verify the batch, lot of group of individual vehicles involved, and whether any was exported to, and sold in Nigeria. The Council recognizes that some of the versions of the subject models were unlikely to have been manufactured for possible export to Nigeria.

Controversy over the safety of Blue Band “Spread for Bread” and solubility in rising and high temperatures 

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is aware that a short demonstration video showing how Blue Band “Spread for Bread” (a product of Unilever Nigeria PLC) reacts under certain heat conditions has been circulating, particularly on social media. The video, or impression it conveys, has become the subject of anxiety and intense controversy. It suggests that the product, which the narrator considers a functional equivalent of “Blue Band Original”, is unsafe because, when subjected to high temperature in boiling water, it did not melt or dissolve.
Available scientific information confirms that, though butter, margarine, and spread appear analogous, and share similar components, characteristics and uses, they are different products available to consumers. Butter and margarine share a particular similar characteristic; low resistance to heat. As such, both are likely to melt when subjected to certain levels of heat. Spreads however, have varying heat resistance, depending on intended use, and production process. As a result, it is not necessarily unsafe that a spread does not melt under similar heat conditions as butter, or margarine.
Spreads are produced in part by adding emulsifiers which are additives used in stabilizing and binding processed foods. They are not inherently unsafe or uncommon. The specific emulsifying agent and amount used, largely depends on many factors including shelf life, storage, handling and climatic conditions in order to prevent microbial activity.
The manufacturer of this product has made a statement seeking to address public concern by differentiating its products and explaining the purposes of the two different products.
Regardless, the Council has opened an inquiry to determine product safety, and clarify some aspects of the manufacturer’s statements. The purpose of the inquiry is to ensure their products, differentiated or otherwise, are safe and subjected to proper processes, and “in-trade” handling consistent with the different properties and characteristics of each product.

Chinese Drugs Containing Human Remains

NAFDAC has been informed by Ministry of Health of some Chinese drugs that contain human remains. NAFDAC’s Director General immediately alerted the Agency’s Ports Inspection Directorate to be on the lookout at our ports and borders since the drugs may be brought into the country as small packages. The Pharmacovigilance and Post-Marketing Directorate has also been alerted to conduct surveillance in our markets. The Registration and Regulatory Affairs Directorate is also on the lookout. Our goal is to Safeguard the Health of the Nation. ​​The Director General has also contacted her counterpart in South Korea since the news was disseminated by Nigeria and Korea Intelligence Agencies. We will keep the public updated.

Listeriosis Resulting From Consumption Of Imported Contaminated Frozen Mixed Vegetable

National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s directorate of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN) responded to an alert from International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) on outbreak of Listeriosis in some parts of Europe. INFOSAN received the information from European Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed (RASFF). INFOSAN is a global network of national food safety authorities managed jointly by FAO and WHO whose primary responsibility is to assist member states in managing food safety risks and ensuring rapid sharing of information during food safety emergencies to stop the spread from one country to another.
The Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye was informed on July 11, 2018 by FSAN that the RASFF had confirmed that the compromised food (frozen mixed vegetables) was shipped to Nigeria. She immediately gave a directive for a nation-wide surveillance. NAFDAC’s FSAN directorate went into action and confirmed that some of the implicated products actually arrived Nigeria. Teams dispatched to the field found large quantities of the implicated products and placed them on HOLD. Placing on HOLD means the item cannot be distributed or sold.
The outbreak of Listeriosis in Europe was linked to frozen corn and other frozen mixed vegetables. Listeria monocytogenes, the causative agent of listeriosis can be found in many foods. Examples include smoked fish; meats; cheeses (especially soft cheeses) and raw vegetables. Consumption of contaminated food or feed is the main route of transmission to humans and animals. Infection that can lead to death may also occur through contact with infected animals or people.
NAFDAC’s next step response started with the Agency’s newly created First Responders Team (FRT). The Team (composed of staff from FSAN, Investigations & Enforcement, and Pharmacovigilance/Post marketing directorates) carried out the nationwide investigations in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. NAFDAC recovered a total of 3,300kg of the implicated product, PINGUIN brand of mixed vegetables, which have been isolated by the Agency for destruction. Therefore, health risks to the Nigerian public have been mitigated. Further surveillance is on-going nationwide.
As a member of INFOSAN, NAFDAC has the obligation to respond promptly to INFOSAN alerts and give a feedback on actions taken. In line with its obligation, NAFDAC has sent required updates on her activities to INFOSAN, with regard to this outbreak.

Take home

The Nigerian Customs Service should increase their protective strategies against Illegal commercial activities and trade in illicit goods, e.g. import of fake and sub-standard goods into the country.

The Standard Organization of Nigeria, should continue to prevent the dumping of substandard goods into the Nigeria market and as a result preventing economic loss to the importer and the nation at large.

NAFDAC should level up the inspection of imported food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, Chemicals, detergents, drinks and bottled water at ports of entry before release.

Finally, all government Agencies including CBN, Police, NDLEA, SON, NAFDAC, FIRS; should increase their collaborative efforts to fight against sub-standard imported goods which is available all over Nigeria.

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