Cairoq, (The Southern African Times) – African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced the commencement of construction of the Africa Quality Assurance Centre (AQAC) in Ogun State, Nigeria. The Centre will be a state-of-the-art facility with the capacity to offer testing, certification, inspection, and training services covering agricultural products. It is the first in a series of Quality Assurance Centres that Afreximbank intends to establish across Africa to support industrialisation across the continent by ensuring that African products are manufactured to international standards and enabling them to participate in intra-African and global trade. First class quality infrastructure is considered critical in facilitating trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Construction of the Ogun State AQAC commenced on 25th February 2021. The Centre, which is expected to commence operations by the second quarter of 2022, will provide more than 400 jobs in the local area, including over 180 in the highly skilled areas of quality assurance, testing, inspection, and certification. In addition, an on-site training academy will provide the public and private sector with training in standards and quality assurance, as well as the skills necessary for businesses to compete in regional and international markets.
The AQAC is strategically located on a 5-hectare plot of land allocated by the Ogun State Government along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The project site is 65km from Lagos, Nigeria’s main port city and commercial capital, and 75km from Ibadan, a major commercial and industrial hub in south-western Nigeria. It is also at the center of a region known for export agriculture.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, declared: “African businesses are set for a major step-change as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) opens up new markets across the continent and the globe. To make their mark in countries around the world, African products must meet international standards. The AQAC in Ogun State will help deliver the highest quality African goods, strengthening their competitiveness and providing confidence to buyers. This is an important step, not only in underpinning the ‘Made-in-Africa’ brand, but as a driver for greater exports, increased manufacturing and more resilient economies across the continent.”
Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification, is Afreximbank’s technical partner on the project and will manage and operate the facility. The partnership will ensure that AQAC meets the ISO 17025 standard for testing and calibration laboratories, to ensure the credibility and reliability of the range of services provided, including physical and chemical testing, contaminant analysis, microbiological testing, water analysis, soil analysis, plant analysis and organic substrate analysis, among others.
Marc Roussel, Bureau Veritas Africa Senior Vice President, said: “We are very proud to be involved in this project and believe it can effectively shape trust between companies, public authorities and consumers. The AQAC will help improve the quality of Nigerian agricultural and food products, providing a boost to businesses and ensuring the well-being of local consumers. At the same time, compliance with international standards will facilitate access to export markets and thus increase the economic activity and employment in Nigeria.”
Courtney Michael Partnership Nigeria Limited, a Nigerian based company specialised in project management and construction management services, are project managers, while Monterosa Construction Ltd, Nigeria and Lambert Electromec Nigeria Ltd are providing construction services.