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Improving economy, quality of life through metrology

By Femi Adekoya
27 May 2015   |   4:07 am
An internationally recognized metrology infrastructure in developing countries is now recognized as a high priority in the face of growing global trade. For these countries, the lack of such a structure is hindering development as it raises the vulnerability to non-tariff barriers to trade, that in turn delays market access and further industrial and economic development. Nigeria, through collaboration with development agencies like the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), hopes to achieve a shift in paradigm towards achieving traceable, comparable and mutually acceptable measurements that is globally acceptable with the metrology infrastructures. FEMI ADEKOYA examines moves by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in addressing the evolving needs for metrology a reality.
Photo; npl

Photo; npl

One of the effects of globalization of trade has been that traceable, comparable and mutually acceptable measurements across the world are now required not only in the trade of manufactured products and raw materials, but also in almost all aspects of international trade.

In order to enlarge and strengthen the export possibilities for products from developing countries and to allow them to measure and test products that they import, it is crucial that confidence be established in measurement and test results carried out in these countries.

To this end, the Standards Organisation Nigeria (SON) in a bid to further encourage fairness in business transactions while promoting quality assurance in the real sector inaugurated the nation’s first Metrology Institute in Enugu.

With the move, the agency is optimistic of addressing the deficit in infrastructure under its national quality infrastructure agenda for positioning Nigeria’s locally manufactured products for global competitiveness.

Besides, the Chairman, SON council, Abubakar Mustapha has advocated a consideration for the review of SON Act by the National Assembly in order to be able to execute its mandate.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Institute in Enugu, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga explained that a thriving metrology system is essential for a country to have a robust manufacturing process.

According to him, Nigeria’s diversification agenda would be realised when enablers and value chain drivers are empowered to achieve their mandates.

“SON has embarked on an ambitious project that would serve as an enabler for diversification. Diversification cannot be achieved without the National Quality Infrastructure. The metrology Institute would further aid the country’s compliance with conformity assessment rules “.

The institute according to SON will undertake activities such as developing, maintaining and disseminating national measurement standards appropriate to national needs, and also develop and transfer to users’ new measurement technology.

Indeed, the national measurement standards of a country provide the basis for its other conformity assessment activities like calibration services, trade metrology services, and conformance testing with respect to technical regulations, testing, and accreditation amongst others in both the regulatory and voluntary sectors.

Director-General, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu noted that the country does not have any if such infrastructure at the moment and it exists, it is probably not accredited.

“Consumers have over the years been short-changed by many service providers. This Institute hopes to aid fairness in transactions. Consumers have to trust the amount of petrol delivered by a pump amongst others, so metrology is an important aspect of life.

“There has been a deficit of SON facilities and this informed the move to further safeguard consumers by ensuring that infrastructures are developed to facilitate this effort”, he added.

A core concept in metrology is metrological traceability, which is most often obtained by calibration, establishing the relation between the indication of a measuring instrument and the value of a measurement standard. National metrological institutes usually coordinate these standards.

United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) representative, Dr. Chuma Ezedinma noted that metrology is a key component of the Quality Infrastructure and should be developed in Nigeria to ensure accuracy and traceability of measurements in the country while facilitating global competitiveness of Nigerian products and services.

He added that UNIDO has continued to support Nigeria’s industrial growth and would not relent in assisting with the quality infrastructure projects.

Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime commended the SON’s efforts in the state adding that the state would continue to provide an enabling environment for its effective operations.

According to industry stakeholders, metrology is of fundamental importance in industry and trade – not only from the point of view of the consumer but also for those involved in manufacturing.

They noted that both groups must have confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the measurements upon which they depend, saying: “Within the manufacturing process, to ensure the accuracy of measuring instruments, it is essential that they should be periodically calibrated against more accurate standards, which in turn should have their calibration traceable to even more accurate national measurement standards at the national level and, eventually, the international level”.

The implementation of trade agreements under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) requires the existence of an internationally recognized system of comparable and traceable measurements.

As international accreditation agreements are tools for creating confidence in the competence of measurement and testing laboratories, they are based on the understanding that the measurement and test results carried out are reliable, traceable and comparable.

This requires the existence of an international network of national metrology laboratories, recognized by regulators and legislators and in which trading partners can have confidence, and to which all the industrial and other measurement, calibration and testing laboratories can refer.

Already, the SON, in a bid to address market access challenges for made-in Nigeria goods received accreditation for its microbiology laboratory in line with international best practices.