In order to further assure the quality of products on sale in Nigerian markets, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is set to launch a Product Authentication Mark (PAM) in 2018.
The Director General, Mr. Osita Aboloma, disclosed this in his welcome address at a Stakeholders Forum on PAM in Lagos attended by members of the organized private sector, including Manufacturers, Importers, Consumers and Civil Society organizations among others.
Mr. Aboloma stated that the Product Authentication Mark was designed to guarantee the quality of locally manufactured and imported products in the Nigerian markets and to increase Consumer confidence.
According to him, deployment of the PAM technology to ascertain the quality status and genuineness of products has become imperative in protecting the interest of Consumers and genuine businesses against product faking, cloning and counterfeiting.
“PAM is being introduced to consolidate all other quality assurance schemes like the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Program (MANCAP) for locally manufactured products, the Offshore Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) for imported products and the Electronic Product Registration scheme for traceability and quality verification”, he said.
The SON DG added that the gains in applying the authentication mark on products at a reasonable cost far outweighs the dangers posed by Consumers’ exposure to substandard products and the financial burden on the economy.
Mr. Aboloma added that in line with international best practices and in conformity with the World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements, SON has given due notifications to the members of the organized private sector through the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
It has also published the notifications in National Newspapers as well as on its website www.so.gov.ng for the information of the general public, he said.
The Stakeholders Forum in Lagos according to him, was the first in the series of many others, planned to be held across the Nation to get inputs towards fine tuning the scheme before its final launch and deployment.
In his presentation on the Consumer perspective to the PAM, the Director General, Consumer Protection Council, Mr. Babatunde Irukera said the Council supports the initiative.
According to him, consumers in Nigeria have been faced with challenges of identifying and distinguishing genuine from counterfeited products and thus exposed to the grave dangers associated with patronage and use of substandard products as well as the economic loss involved.
He stated that the assurance of quality of products and the guarantee of their safety to Consumers should be paramount in Stakeholders consideration of the PAM.
Mr. Irukera however advocated for a downward review of the cost which he said, Manufacturers and Importers will simply pass down to the Consumers.
While also welcoming participants to the Forum, MAN President, Chief Frank Jacobs expressed the support of his members for the initiative but wondered if it would not be an added financial burden to Manufacturers and in turn the Consumers.
Presenting a paper on PAM, SON Acting Director, Product Certification, Mr. Tersoo Orngudwem enumerated the process of applying the PAM stickers on products for retailing, stressing that the authentication can be done with an application on any smart phone or through a text message to a dedicated number at no cost to the Consumer.
After a robust interactive session, it was agreed that an advisory committee comprising representatives of SON, MAN and the CPC be set up to fine tune grey areas in the deployment of the mark, including the cost.
The MAN President and Director General of the CPC expressed their commitment to ensuring speedy harmonization of views in order for the PAM to work in the overall interest of manufacturers, Importers and Consumers at large.