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Stakeholders Brainstorm on Making Nigerian Products Go Global



By Eric Ojo, Abuja

 (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Participants at the just concluded 2nd Edition of the Nigeria Geographical Indications (GIs) Stakeholders’ Dialogue, have called for a concerted effort aimed at ensuring that products of Nigerian origin are identified and promoted in the global market.

GIs apply to products that preserve local cultural practices and traditional knowledge in the production value chain, due to their territorial reliability and source of origin. Fortunately Nigeria is richly endowed with GI products.

The meeting which was held in Abuja under the auspices of “The Making Nigerian GI Global” project master plan that seeks to deepen the conversation and continue the technical capacity development process on the concept of Nigeria GI, among stakeholders in Nigeria.

The Project is a 10-year strategic plan that aims to ensure the required processes and procedures are duly done to have products of Nigerian origin classified as GI both for the local and global market.

Specifically, the goal is to ensure through advocacy, stakeholders are fully aware, knowledgeable and responsive to the concept of GI in Nigeria, through capacity development, legal framework, and researched database on such products.

Moreover, Nigerian GI products are considered as economic, bilateral and multilateral negotiation tools and the master plan will ensure a competitive environment characterized with required infrastructure that will support GI agricultural and other available products in order to make them thrive.

The ultimate aim, according to a statement made available to African Examiner,  is to ensure that we standardise, and protect the processes of 100 percent Nigerian traditional products so that producers of will have origin GI label on their products.

“This will be a massive opportunity to move away from commodity markets into a more lucrative niche markets through differentiation that will guarantee wealth, job, investment, economic development and growth for rural communities across Nigeria”, the statement said.

Participants at the meeting noted that there are so many products that are qualified to be considered as GIs products in Nigeria, which unfortunately are yet to be rated, due to lack of basic infrastructure, information and legal frameworks.

In addition, the participants drawn for the government, private sector, development partners, civil society organisations, researchers, the media and a host of other stakeholders, also observed that the absence of a GI system and protection mechanism of the intellectual property right of products of Nigerian origin has made it difficult to tap into the huge benefits the Nigeria’s GI products offer to the local and international space.

In his opening remarks, the Registrar Trademarks, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Shafiu Adamu Yauri, warned that failure to protect the nation’s GIs will give room for abuse and possible loss of such benefits and rights.

“It is worthy to emphasize at the outset that without GIs protection, Nigeria cannot maximise its potentials in the sale and marketing of its highly prized and rich agricultural and other cultural products”, he added.

He further explained that wherever products are not protected by means of geographical indications, such products initially have no “geographical” market identity  and are also deprived of benefiting from the goodwill associated with GIs as they remain open to abuse or exploitation by others.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the International Centre for Development Affairs, Dr. Osita Aniemeka, harped on the role of government, adding that getting a legal framework for the protection of GIs of Nigerian origin is not a difficult task.

“You cannot do anything without the input of Government. However, Government must take the lead by aggregating stakeholders, such relevant government agencies and CSOs that have been advocating for GIs in the country to draft a policy framework within a period of six months”, he stated.

Dr. Osita noted that because dependency on oil alone as the driver of the Nigerian economy is not sustainable, it has become imperative that other sources of income are explored.

He said the Ministry of Petroleum’s report shows that there was oil fall in October, 2018 as both growth in output and new orders lost momentum, giving impetus to increased need for the country to diversify its economy.

This shortfall, according to him, has equally necessitated strict adherence to standardization compliance with global trade protocols, which evolve sustainable international market for products of Nigerian origin.

Also in his presentation, Deputy Director (Product Development), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Samuel Oyeyipo who represented the Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, noted that the protection of GIs will boost the Nigerian economy tremendously, if harnessed effectively.

He added that it will also give Nigeria a competitive advantage especially in the agricultural sector due to the huge amounts of plant species that thrive well in their natural habitats in the local communities.

This, he said, will also enable small scale farmers gain directly and have a fair market share value for their products.

“It also promotes tourism as tourists visit some remote parts of the world to witness at first-hand activities leading to some of the well-Sknown GI products. It ensures environmental sustainability by promoting the specialattributes/characteristics which are maintained to enable the creation of niche markets for GI products at the international market”, he added.

He suggested that the need for more awareness on the benefits of GIs needs to be intensified as it can be used as a marketing tool to promote products which are indigenous to Nigeria into the international market.

In his submission, the Executive Director, Africa International Trade and Commerce Research, Mr Sand Mba-Kalu, noted there is also the dearth of information about GIs in Nigeria.

Mr. Mba-Kalu observed that those who should be the drivers of the process for formulation and implementation of a Nigerian GI framework for the country are mostly unaware of what GIs are as well as the benefits to the Nigerian economy, and rural development.

He however, pointed out that the problem of lack of information about GIs is not peculiar to Nigeria alone but a host of African counties, as well.

“Africa has fallen behind and allow the rest of the world to take advantage of those products which were originally from Africa and once you lose your GI rights, it is almost impossible to have them back because they become legally registered by another country as this will have a diplomatic dimension”, he added.

Meanwhile, GI products provide revenues and pride to millions of producers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) around the world.

Currently, Europe has over 4,000 GI products while China alone has about 2,000 products. China reached this achievement by identifying her area of comparative advantage.

This, according to the participants, Nigeria can also do and there exist very rich potentials that can make this possible since such products abound in virtually every part of the country.

For instance, products that have been captured as GIs by the NEPC include, Tye and Dye from Abeokuta (Ogun State),  Ofada Rice (Ogun State), Akwete Cloth  from Azumini/Akwete (Abia State) and Leather works  (Kano/ Sokoto States).

Others are; Cashew Nuts  (Ogbomosho/Kogi/Enugu),  Leather Products  (Abia State), Rafia Works ( Akwa Ibom/ Cross River States), Irish Potato (Plateau State) and Coconut (Badagry, Lagos State).

Similarly, in the Nigerian tourism sector, the list include, Yankari Game Reserve (Bauch State), Osun Oshogbo Festival (Osun State), Esie Museum (1st  Museum in Nigeria built in 1945) Esie, Irepodun Local Government Area (LGA), Kwara State.

Others are, Obudu Mountain Resort  (Cross River State) Olumo Rock  (Abeokuta, Ogun State) Argungu Fishing Festival (Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State) Borgu Game Reserve ( Borgu LGA, Niger State) and a host of many others that are yet to be given such recognition.

 

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