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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a standard?

A standard is a document, established by consensus or legal instrument that provides rules, guidelines, or characteristics for activities or their results.

Why are standards important?

Behind the scenes, standards make everyday life work. They may establish size or shape or capacity of a product, service, process or system. They can specify performance of products or personnel. They also can define terms so that there is no misunderstanding among those using the standard. For examples, standards help ensure that tyres fit our vehicles, that a light bulb fits a socket, and plugs for electrical appliances fit outlets.

There are different standards for different products, processes, systems and even professions. In Nigeria, standards are set and enforced through a network of international bodies, statutory bodies and recognized professional bodies. In Nigeria alone, tens of thousands of standards are in operation covering:

  • Product-Based Standards
  • Performance-Based Standards
  • Management System Standards
  • Personnel Certification Standards
  • Construction Standards.

Due to global recognition, green and ergonomics standards are also beginning to receive a measure of attention in Nigeria.

Are standards also useful to small and medium scale enterprise, SMES  apart from large and established industries?

Every small or medium enterprise, SME, competes for a share of the same market as large and established industries do. In fact, often large industries are just enterprises that have found a way to provide - in a faster, larger and cheaper way- products and services that some SMEs know how to produce in a more unique but restricted way. Standards help SMEs to access critical intelligence developed by consensus by experts in their field without having to bear the enormous cost of establishing their own research and development unit. Compliance with standards also help SMEs earn credibility in the market place thereby increasing their customer base and bottomline. Most importantly, compliance with standards enable SMEs to leverage their unique selling points in a more transparent way.  

How are standards created?

Standards are developed by technical experts that work together to meet a common marketplace need. The term “voluntary consensus standard” describes a document developed through a process where all views and objections are considered and where affected parties (including government, consumers, and business) have reached consensus on its contents.

Who creates standards?

In Nigeria, unlike many western nation, creation and enforcement of standards are still largely restricted to the forums or platforms facilitated by statutory organizations (like the Standard Organization of Nigeria, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Nigerian Food Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, etc) and some leading professional bodies statutorily recognized or empowered to set standards over certain mandates.

Conversely, in the United States, any entity or individual can participate in standards development activities. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you’re interested in working on, and then finding the standards development organizations that are currently working in that area. The U.S. market-driven, sector-based approach to standards development offers flexibility, efficiency, and a responsiveness: features that are now being pursued by various independent associations promoting a view of standards as a business boosting undertaking instead of stifling agent.

There is also a greater movement towards the involvement of companies, organizations, trade associations, consumer groups, and government agencies in the development of standards. The aim is to promote tangible competitive advantage over for businesses that pay attention to the standards development energies of Nigeria as they:

  • Gain insider knowledge and early access to information;
  • Exert influence on technical content; and
  • Develop new markets for products, services, and technologies while keeping market access doors open.

Specific standards are also open to reviews – and are being reviewed in Nigeria whenever communications among local/international standards developing organizations (SDOs) and other stakeholders suggest a new consensus in any product, process or system associated with any sector. The work of SDOs — and the experts who populate their committees — is to enhance quality of life and improve the competitiveness of Nigerian businesses operating in the local and global marketplace while protecting the Nigerian consumer from harmful or substandard products or services.

What is conformity assessment?

Conformity assessment is defined as any activity concerned with determining directly or indirectly that relevant requirements are fulfilled. Sometimes, conformity assessment is referred to as conformance or compliance.

While a standard is a technical expression of how to make a product safe, efficient, and compatible with others, a standard alone cannot guarantee performance. Conformity assessment, however, provides assurance to consumers by increasing consumer confidence when personnel, products, systems, processes or services are evaluated against the requirements of a voluntary standard.

How is compliance with standards verified?

Conformity assessment is a vital link between standards that define product characteristics and the products themselves. It can verify whether a particular product meets a given level of quality or safety. And it can provide information about the product’s characteristics, the consistency of those characteristics, and the performance of the product.

Product problems are frequently not due to inadequacy of the standard, but rather conformance to the standard. Testing, inspection, and auditing of products and management systems is as important as the standard in ensuring that products and systems are safe and perform as expected.

Specifically, with respect to local enterprises, conformity assessment activities offer the most credible way to usher in an era of corporate responsibility that extends to mass recall of products that has been adjudged not to comply with standards.

The task of assessing compliance to a standard may fall to a manufacturer, to an independent third party like an auditor or testing lab, or to a public official like a building code inspector. The the SON Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) is one example of statutory initiatives aimed at enforcing compliance to standards.

What is the “Standards & Enterprise Development, SED” Center all about?

 The Standards & Enterprise Development Center, member of the JusticeMedia Institute (publishers of is Nigeria's first independent platform engaging the issue of enterprise development and the promotion of the greater embrace and use of relevant standards in Nigeria. SED Center represents the socio-economic justice engagement vehicle of the JusticeMedia Institute.

Among others, the SED Center deploys advocacy platforms and exposures including media publications, research and intelligence development, policy reviews, and direct engagement with consumers, enterprises and statutory/professional bodies directly involved in the development, review and enforcement of standards in Nigeria.  

What issue is the campaign aiming to address?

SED Center was established to tackle socio-economic injustice In Nigeria – especially the continuing lack of employment and other meaningful economic opportunities for a large part of Nigeria’s population. The recognition that standards are key to the development of sustainable and generational businesses and brands that can successfully transit from the informal sector to the formal sector – and even make it to the regional and global markets is central to the maintenance of this platform,

The major objective of the SED Center is provide an independent platform around which the development of a standard driven enterprise circuit in Nigeria can be accelerated with the informed buy-in and participation of relevant stakeholders – consumers, regulators, enterprise leaders and the generation next (of consumers, regulators and enterprise leaders). The major planks SED Center has designed for advancing its objectives include the annual Standards & Enterprise Development Conference which maiden edition is billed for April in 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria; media campaigns boosting awareness of the place of standards in enterprise building as well as active networking with other standards professionals and enterprise leaders.

How will the campaign generate awareness?

The key messages of the SED Center campaign will be incorporated into brochures, flyers, presentations and speeches, testimony, publications, press releases, websites and social media applications, advertising, contributed articles or letters to the editor, and much more. More importantly, the messages and deliverables may be used freely by any stakeholder within the standards community to help explain the strategic value of the standards to Nigerian businesses.

Who is behind this effort?

The SED Center is administered by the JusticeMedia Institute, leading social enterprise focused on the legal and economic justicer and publisher of For more information, visit

Why now?

Since Nigeria’s political independence in 1960, the country has gone through a lot of upheavals on several fronts especially on the political and economic fronts. One of the most debilitating outcomes was the relegation of the awareness, embrace, use and enforcement of legal and economic standards to the shadows of political calculations and conveniences: from the Constitution down to economic standards.

Over five decades of ethical crisis in the major sectors of the Nigerian project led down to the loss of capacity to generate economic and other social opportunities sustainably due to absence of established and accepted standards and principles. The enterprise development circuit has been particularly affected by the state of affairs as evidenced by the lack of home-bred generational enterprises in Nigeria.

However, in the past few years, there has been a rising conscious of the need and place of acceptable and sound standards built through consensus in society as a whole starting from the Constitution – to the business realm. Its corollary has also been a rising wave of advocacy and policy statements towards the development of enterprises in Nigeria as a response to unacceptably high unemployment rates. This forum tries to do the needful: ensure that the new enterprise development wave in Nigeria leads to sustainable and generational businesses by promoting their embrace and use of standards as well as their active involvements leading to the development of new standards or review of old ones.

With the wind on the side of economic revival in Nigeria through strategic developments in the enterprise circuits and the vicious circle that needs to be reversed, now is the best time for an independent effort to work with the standards community to showcase the strategic value of the system to Nigerian business and help corporate Nigeria understand the critical importance of their participation in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

How can I participate?

As a company, you can read the materials provided, share this link with your staff, and make a resource commitment to the Nigerian standardization system by supporting our work. Show your support today, and email us if you’d like to be featured in our Case Studies section. In addition you may also help our work in the following ways

Educate your colleagues and executive leadership

Without a proper understanding of the value of standards and conformance, some organizations have seen standards development as a logical place to start making cuts – both in terms of funding and manpower. Take a look at the toolkit for some valuable resources that will help you show your colleagues – in concrete, easy-to-understand terms – just how important standards and conformance are to their business.

1. Submit a case study with results-oriented metrics

Do you have a great standards or conformance success story? Tell us about it and we will put it up on the case studies page for all to see. We need to show executives and aspiring entrepreneurs \how standards and conformance are increasing efficiency, saving money, and earning and maintaining market access, and concise, results-focused case studies are a great way to do it.

2. Become a partner

Your financial support of this effort will broaden the reach of the Standards & Enterprise Development Center message. With your assistance, we can get advertorials and messaging in business and regular rpublications, build a robust promotional campaign, and ensure that executives from all industries are exposed to the strategic importance of standardization. Becoming a sponsor also gives you an opportunity to get greater exposure for your organization and your own standardization success stories.

3. Become conversant with tools and studies from the standardization community –  local and international
(here are a few international examples. Local ones are being developed and collated):



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