Stakeholders Call for Govt Action on Halal Standardisation, Regulations ahead of AfCFTA
Stakeholders have called for government action on halal standardisation and regulations ahead of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
They cited examples of Malasyia and Indonesia with official standardisation, national plan of action and governmental development authority to drive the halal industry.
They spoke on Saturday at the halal webinar organised by Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and attended by stakeholders, including Sheikh Sheriff Saleh, NACCIMA President, Hajia Saratu Iya Aliyu, Malaysian and Indonesian trade representatives, the Indian High Commissioner, Philipino trade chief, Sheikh Nurudeen Lemu, Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority among others.
The president of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode CON, SAN, in his opening remarks, said Nigeria should enter the sector more boldly and with required structures and infrastructure.
He said the industry provides a huge opportunity for Nigeria at a time the world’s economy is struggling as a result of the pandemic stating that the industry holds a critical key to accelerated recovery.
The president described the industry as potent business opportunity that transcends religious considerations and as a prospering business landscape open to all humanity.
He said the Chamber felt discussions on the benefits of keying into the industry must be elevated to help boost the economy, adding that the ACCI organized the forum to showcase the booming world of the halal industry and the need for Nigeria to get involved.
The guest speaker, Chairman Fatwa Committee of the Nigrerian Supreme Counci for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Grand Mufty of Nigeria and the Chairman of FRACE (CBN), His Eminence, Sheikh Sheriff Ibrahim Saleh, while quoting from the Holy Quran, told the gathering that Islam is frank on consumption of what is lawful and permissible and enjoins its followers to avoid consuming what is forbidden.
The president of the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, said a properly functioning halal certification body is critical for Nigeria to be able to access markets across the world.
She also noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had, in July 2020, introduced 11 intervention schemes designed to increase access to finance for non-interest financial institutions, including guidelines for the operation of the agribusiness, small and medium enterprise in the investment schemes for non-interest financial institutions, among interest guidelines for non-oil export simulation facilities.
These programmes, according to her, provide the much-needed financing to promote the halal industry.
She also cited some challenges the industry might face in the country including “problems of double taxation, inadequate human resources, problem of Islamophobia, and its religious factors of all the constraints hampering effective utilization and participation in Islamic banking in Nigeria”, she said.
While speaking on Halal Marketing and Branding, Sheikh Nuruddeen Lemu, who is the Director of Research and Dahwah Institute of Nigeria, said branding and marketing the industry requires a lot from government.
He said branding the industry needed to be looked at holistically, especially in infrastructure regulation standards.
“Other things, of course, are important to the success of marketing and branding from currency stability, restoring and protecting investor confidence in the Nigerian market. The growth of inputs and how that is facilitated improves inbound tourism, stronger international partnerships, building the talent pool as well as SME capacity building” he said.
Mohammed Khairy Maidin, Trade Commissioner of Malaysia in Lagos on his part said that the halal market is fast growing for the benefit of not only the Muslim community, but also others who need to consume and use the products for their service, the reason why his country developed strategies that involves halal protection, promotion and implemented them.
The Executive Director of the Malaysia Halal Consultancy and Training Agency (MHCT), Prof AbdulRafek Saleh, said that because the industry is not only consumed by Muslims alone said over 80 percent of those who requested consultation, training or certification from his agency were non-Muslims who wanted to tap into the market.
“Halal has become a huge market demand”, he said.
The Indian High Commisioner to Nigeria, Mr Abhay Thakur, who was represented by his deputy, said the Nigerian Muslim population is growing and with it a rising incomes as well as consumer demand which is an interest India would love to engage more vigorously with Nigeria.
“We see that there is a lot of scope for India to start its investment in this sector because right now there is substantial Indian investment in Nigeria. It is estimated that 35 Indian companies have invested over $19.3billion in Nigeria. This is a sector is offering new opportunities and I’m sure with all the facilities and the incentives being offered a substantial interest from the Indian side, talking about the Nigerian trade sector” he said.
The chairman of the Halal Certification Authority, Prof. Ibrahim Oreagba, said the halal standardization and certification undergoes five processes, including application, document review and evaluation, onsite audit where opening meeting, plant inspection, document review, evaluation and sample collection is done, and then audit report is given before the Halal certificate can be issued.
The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Adesoji Adesugba, said the webinar serves as an opportunity for those local companies or even countries thinking of coming to Nigeria, and are interested in investing in the free zones for export purposes, taking advantage of the impending African free trade towards the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to setting up their companies in the export free zones.
In her closing remarks, the Director-General of the ACCI, Victoria Akai, said the chamber was strategically positioned to create awareness on the benefits of the industry and also a structured halal market.
According to her, the industry is a major opportunity at a time that the world is struggling with recession and depression, adding that the industry holds a critical key to accelerating recovery.
“Halal industry is a prosperous business landscape, open to all humanity, I personally love halal fashion” she said.
“We believe it is time to have series of policies and programs to overcome the challenges of halal phobia and embrace the halal industry for economic developments. We have taken many forward steps as at ensuring that the world visits Nigeria, through the halal Expo Nigeria, which we had initially scheduled to hold in June, and October 2020, but for the COVID-19 pandemic of which over 100 businesses from 15 countries had expressed the willingness to participate” she said.
She used the opportunity to invite the gathering to the 2021 Halal Expo Nigeria, scheduled to hold from the 14th to the 16th of September, 2021.
Media Officer ACCI