RMRDC, SON, UNIDO, others to embark on inter-agency partnership for standards on raw materials.
As part of efforts to address the issue of poor quality of indigenously produced raw materials so as to improve the competitiveness of domestic consumer goods, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) is leading an inter-agency partnership initiative involving the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and others to evolve a robust and functional frame work for the development of acceptable quality standards for raw materials produced in Nigeria. Speaking during a meeting with members of UNIDO led by Dr Raymond Tavares , Industrial Development Officer , Trade Capacity -Building Branch, Vienna, Austria at the RMRDC Headquarters in Abuja recently, the Director General of the Council, Dr Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, said an inter-agency collaboration was necessary for achieving a holistic quality standard development framework for industrial raw materials in Nigeria. Dr Ibrahim, while acknowledging the importance of a working synergy between RMRDC and other relevant stakeholders in improving the quality standards of raw materials in the country, emphasized that assuring and ensuring the availability of quality materials for resource based industries in Nigeria is the cardinal statutory responsibility of RMRDC. He said the council would therefore welcome, as part of its strategic plan, viable collaborations with relevant stakeholders to quickly improve competitiveness of consumer goods produced in Nigeria by elaborating quality standards , necessary to attain industrial quality specifications for raw materials by the manufacturing industries for compliance by producers of basic and value added raw materials. Dr Ibrahim said the council is poised to exploiting areas of quick needs- low hanging fruits- as it were and that the council was open to working with relevant partners to improve the capacity of producers of raw materials to meet industrial quality specifications and also develop standards where there is non for strategic industrial raw materials. He particularly decried the frequent rejection of some commodities exports from Nigeria due to quality concerns . However, he described as unacceptable, instances where some multinationals discriminatingly shun the use of local raw materials on the guise that they were sub-standard. He cited the case of barytes produced in Nigeria as being one of the best in the World with specific gravity as high as 4.2 but often rejected by some companies for use as drilling mud, in the oil and gas industry . To ameliorate the situation , the DG/CEO said that RMRDC in collaboration with African was in the process of setting up a raw materials testing laboratory, where conformity assessment test to set quality standards ( industrial specifications for raw materials) can be ascertained . Speaking at the forum, the leader of the UNIDO delegation,Dr Raymond Tavares said UNIDO would provide the necessary technical assistance to the Council and the Inter-Agency Committee on Development of Standards for Raw Materials , in its bid to improve quality standard of raw materials produced , in Nigeria to ensure global competitiveness of their consumer outputs, where UNIDO's mandate in Nigeria permits. He acknowledged RMRDC's efforts in working to improve the quality of industrial raw materials as being pivotal in ensuring the competitiveness of indigenous consumer goods in the international markets. Also speaking Mr Charles Malata -Chirwa, Head National Quality Infrastructure, said UNIDO was at the concluding stages of developing a national quality infrastructure for Nigeria,working with SON as Secretariat and other relevant stakeholders such as RMDC,on various sub committees. He also said UNIDO was an organization that helps developing countries and economies in transition to comply with international standards, even as he noted that manufacturers in developing countries and related industry support institutions needed to develop systems to comply with the new management standard through certification of processes and even personnel . He listed the quality infrastructure as Accreditation, Standardization, Metrology etc. and that a Technical Regulations Body/Board comprising agencies with regulatory mandates, as members was in the offering . The essence of the endeavor is to protect the consumer and be competitive. He also lauded Council's efforts in addressing the issue of quality standards from the raw materials supply angle as he reiterated that poor quality raw materials cannot produce competitive consumer goods.