The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), on Thursday in Abuja pledged to push Nigeria’s export target further to $35billion over the next five years.
The Director-General of SMEDAN, Mr Olawale Fasanya said this at the closing of the implementation of the packaging and branding programme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) products in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Fasanya said that the agency intended to achieve the target through sustained and vigorous implementation of the packaging and branding programme for SMEs
He urged SMEs operators to embrace innovative packaging and branding to ensure their products remain relevant in the international market.
According to him, Nigerian businesses must wake up and begin to think and act creatively, becoming measured risk-takers and problem solvers.
They must also pursue the highest standards attainable in production and service delivery so as to remain relevant in the international market,’’ he said.
The SMEDAN boss who identified poor product quality and packaging as some of the causes of rejection and underpricing of products emphasised that innovative packaging of products meant for international markets was necessary.
According to him, to capture the international market, Nigerian products must be of sound and competitive quality, affordable, well-packaged and uniquely branded.
“One of the challenges confronting Nigerian exports is rejection and under-pricing of their products in the international market.
“Some of the reasons adduced for this trend include poor product quality, poor packaging and branding, lack of information on the nature and dynamics of global market and disregard for basic requirements.
“Others are inadequate policy arrangement between Nigeria and export-destination countries and delays at the Nigerian ports leading to expiration of the product shelf life or depreciation of product value,’’ he said.
He said that innovative packaging protects products along the value chain and provides essential information about the maker and the exporter.
“It is also essential for cleaner, more convenient product presentation and less susceptible to losses from theft, evaporation, spilling, spoilage and damage while innovate branding offers ease of product identification and enhances corporate image among others,’’ Fasanya said.
While identifying export trade as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, Fasanya said that through export trade, Nigeria earns vital foreign exchange, increases her revenue base and foreign reserve and avoids trade deficit.
“The observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) once ranked Nigeria as the 49th largest export economy in the world, having exported goods worth 47.8 billion dollars and imported goods worth 39.5 billion dollars.
“Nigeria’s non-oil export is projected to hit 25 billion dollars by 2025, from 2.7 billion dollars in 2022, according to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
“In the first six months of 2022 alone, Nigeria recorded 2.5 billion dollars in revenue in non-oil export,’’ he said.
Fasanya further said that the programme would increase the number of SMEs that would meet AfCFTA standards as well as enhance cluster development and improve common processing facilities and value addition.
Some of the participants commended SMEDAN for the opportunity and said that the programme exposed them to increased access to global business information.
Mr Hamsat Rafiu, a dealer on honey and fish feeds, said that he expected increased turnover and the programme to enhance regional integration.
Mrs Olusola Olumide said that the programme provided her with the platform to learn proper packaging, branding and labeling of products and understand those factors that could affect her products from being exported.
“This will make my products more effective in the open market.
“We will not be complaining and grumbling that government has not helped us, this programme has added value to our business,’’ she said.
Mrs Hadiza Larai, however, appealed for flexibility in getting certification for their products.
“SMEs are ready now but these certification bodies are not making it easy for us to get this certification
“For example, you register your products after the whole stress and money involved for the registration, getting your certificate and number will also take you years.
“We are appealing to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to help us in reducing the problems of getting our numbers
“The renewal is also expensive, you find one SME having 10 products and they are telling you to renew each of the products with N90, 000 and we are still battling with the market.
“So, how do we get that fund to do all that?
“NAFDAC certification if you have the same line of products with the same packaging they will tell you to register each product on its own.
“All those are discouraging SMEs to come in. they should look into it and help us cut the charges and procedure for us to get certification.”