As part of effort to address the challenges of substandard products in the country, the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) has developed a product authentication model (PAM) to facilitate the verification of quality of products in the Nigerian market.
Sensitizing stakeholders on the PAM recently, the Director General of SON, Farouk Salim, said that the organisation will continue to facilitate trade, ensure that importers and manufacturers products meet the requirements of the relevant standards, to promote public safety, improve quality of lives and security of citizens thereby making Nigeria products marketable around the world.
Salim who noted that part of the benefits of the model include protection of genuine manufacturers and importers from faking and counterfeiting of their certified products, applauded the organization for having substantially reduced the importation, manufacturing and distribution of substandard products in the country through its mandatory conformity assessment program, MANCAP and SON conformity assessment program, SONCAP.
He however, expressed concern that despite the effort of the organization, substandard products were still being imported, manufactured and distributed in the country by smuggling and some other forms.
The SON boss explained that PAM is a digital technology to complement the SONCAP and MANCAP in furtherance of the fight against substandard and counterfeit products in the country, which will in turn increase productivity and result in employment creation that will lead to security improvement.
In his words, “This scheme places power to detect or reject substandard goods in the hands of our markets in the hands of our consumers and users of a product.
“It simply uses a QR code or the dial of smart number SMS to 281 to verify the product and to see when the product was made, if it has expiration date, when it’s expiring, where it is made and such information are necessary for the consumer to either buy the product or not to buy.
“This is different from the other types of products that are used by other organizations in the country just like the NAFDAC, where you have to buy the product, scratch the box and then when you discover that it’s fake, you are helpless. You already bought the product.
“You now have to go back and fight with the person who sold it to you. But with PAM, with your smartphone, before you buy the product, you scan it to verify if the product is okay for you to buy or not to buy.
“It will now put SON in a better position to protect our fellow citizens and ensure that we all get value for our money.”
On his part, Shaibu Onucheyo, who presented a paper on the use of the PAM said, the organisation came up with the model to give the purchaser or buyer the opportunity to confirm the authenticity and the quality of the product before payment is made.
“Before now, the buyer must have bought the product, taken it home and put to use because before he or she will realize that the product is substandard, he or she has spent money on it and this does not give them value for their money.
“To achieve this, is as simple as anything because the mark you’ll see there has almost over 10 elements in it that speak different languages. When in language I give you a different sign that this product is authentic or not. So the moment you scan with your QR code, encodes information will display, giving you from the manufacturer to every other information needed to confirm to you that the product you’re about to buy, is of good quality and if it is SMS you send you get an instant response telling you about our product. The SMS is toll free.
Ambrose Oruche, who represented the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) embraced the PAM, saying it will go a long were to check substandard products, in the country Continuing, the DG said:
“Basically the benefits include protection of genuine manufacturers and importers from faking and counterfeiting of their certified products. Promotion of a level play field in the market for both locally manufactured and imported products certified by some provision of assurance to consumers on products and guaranteed value for money. Assurance of effective removal of non-compliant products in the market.
“Also, this is part of the programs we are doing as at SON to make sure our industries and our genuine importers are protected. We are currently with the National Assembly, the ninth National Assembly. We like to definitely thank them for cooperating with us to adjust our Act to put more penalties for people faking especially like endangering products. Most of the time they get fines and the level of fines are so small because this act was done almost eight years ago.
“So, we went back to the National Assembly and in their wisdom they agreed with us and we are processing right now as we speak. The change of the law where some products are left endangering will require immediate jail time instead of fines.
“And also we are working very seriously and assiduously to make sure we continue to protect our consumers and our manufacturers from substandard goods that are destroying our manufacturing base as a country. So we recognize to set standards and regulate certain areas of the products in the country.
“We will play our part and protect our people and be sure everybody is protected. That’s our responsibility and we take that serious. We do hope that our industrial base will increase because our current situation where we have a lot of educated youth walking around the country looking for work, and our industries are folding is not acceptable.
“We still have a long way to go in this process, but we’re very proud of the steps we’re making. And we are definitely reassuring the public that SON will continue creating programs like this to protect both our families and our people in addition to our industry, make sure everybody succeeds.
“This is very important, especially with the African Free Trade Area, where countries, our neighboring countries and even countries a little farther from Africa will bring in their products without any serious checks except for their certification. So we want our products to be competitive in our neighboring countries too.
“We are working with other agencies around the world around Africa to make sure that whenever we certify our products, we will just have a smooth sailing to the neighboring countries where you will not be checked again, where they will want to use that as an excuse particularly to prevent you from doing your businesses.
“The journey towards the actualization of this innovation has been long, arduous, and will not have been successful without the strong support and encouragement of the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Industry trade and investment”