President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded the inauguration of Nigeria’s first quality assurance centre for agro-produce by the African Export–Import Bank (Afrixembank) in Ogun State.
The President commended the bank for its commitment and contribution to economic and financial development of the country at the inauguration of the African Quality Assurance Centre (AQAC) on Wednesday.
The African Quality Assurance Centre (AQAC), the first in its series in Nigeria, will ensure the production and export of quality agro-produce from the country.
The AQAC laboratory is an initiative of the Afrixembank to ensure that “made in Africa” products meet the required health and safety standards.
The technical partner for the running of AQAC is Bureau Veritas.
The President was represented at the event by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, by Mr Adeniyi Adebayo.
He lauded the efforts of Afreximbank in the growth and development of Nigeria and Africa in general.
“Establishing and validating standard for goods produced in Nigeria is critical to improving market access, improving acceptability and in turn export capacity of the country.
“Quality assurance also put us on the right footing as we continue to drive Nigeria’s industrialisation.
“The potential that the AQAC unlocks to Nigeria cannot be overemphasised, or even more delighted to note.
“The inauguration of the project gives Nigeria an unprecedented advantage that will continue to maximise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“We express our gratitude to Afreximbank for its contribution to export development and for the successful commissioning of the African Quality Assurance Centre.
“Against this backdrop, we have also commenced the implementation of the Nigerian National Quality infrastructure policy to put in place the necessary regulatory institution, and critical infrastructure to ensure global acceptance of Nigeria’s agro-produce,” Buhari said.
The Ogun State Governor, Gov. Adedapo Abiodun, also commended the bank on choice of the state to set up Nigeria’s first agro-produce quality assurance centre.
According to him, “We are very proud to be associated with the opening and inauguration of Nigeria’s first AQAC in our state.
“Afreximbank since inception, has been supporting industrialisation, export development, inter and intra trade, expanding capacity and supporting small and medium scale enterprises to increase efficiency across Africa.
“It has continued to demonstrate its commitment toward a wholesome and sustainable development of our nation’s economy and that of the African continent.
“This opening of the AQAC is a very significant representation of its commitment to the development of the economy of our great nation,” Abiodun said.
The Chairman and President Afrixembank, Prof Benedict Oramah, said the acceptability of African agro-produce is pertinent hence the inauguration of the AQAC.
“We are commissioning, the first in a series of quality assurance centres, that Afreximbank has committed itself to deliver to our continent.
“The number of products recalled from European countries and the number of total rejections of African exports grew rapidly between 2020 and 2021, increasing from 67 cases to 338 cases annually.
“According to a report by the World Trade Organisation, only 24 African countries are eligible for food imports to the US. While 15 African countries are eligible for vegetable exports.
“Rejections at the borders are very costly and it affects export earnings as the export goods are often destroyed by the importing countries.
“An estimate of about $700 million worth of export agro-produce from Africa is rejected and lost due to contamination by aflatoxin according to the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa.
“This rejection rates demonstrate the lack of knowledge of the export content standard and the failure of African countries to conduct conformity assessment trials,” Oramah said.
He said that Afreximbank would continue to find local solutions to the challenges affecting facilitation of Africa agro-produce.
“Our approach at Afreximbank is to find local solutions to the challenges to the promotional facilitation of Africa agro-produce.
“It is unacceptable that Africans have to travel thousands of miles to other countries to test and certify their produce for the international market,” he said.