Stakeholders across trade associations, government agencies, religious leaders and captains of industry are seeking leeway for Nigeria in the $6.7 trillion halal economy backed by a growing global population.
Halal, an Arabic word meaning permissible, according to Islamic Sharia law, and can refer to both goods and services acceptable to Muslims has been in the spotlight as the industry comes to limelight with standards, which cut across sectors of the economy, especially food processing, and others from medicines to cosmetics.
Most of the stakeholders, who gathered at the Halal Expo Nigeria 2021 to discuss “Understanding the Nigeria Halal Market,” noted that the country could significantly jumpstart industrial development through the market, considering the nation’s consumer population.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, members of diplomatic communities and other critical stakeholders from local and international organisations, who were at the event, see Nigeria as a focal point for halal economy on the continent, especially through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Abubakar Mujtaba, noted that while halal industry in the country is at infancy, it remained strategic to the overall economic development of Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, not many Nigerians are aware of this opportunity. It is my hope that the outcome of this event will increase the awareness of Halal business activities amongst the business community and ultimately trigger accelerated participation of investors,” Mujtaba said.
Managing Director of Taj Bank, Norfadalizan Abdulrahman, who also spoke at the event, said Islamic finance would be an enabler to halal economy and also help the country explore, process and export goods and services to over 42 Halal countries.
He noted that there was need for synergy, stressing that the non-interest Islamic finance bodies have already formed an association and could be a gateway for halal economy in Nigeria.
The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, said the zone is considering some strategies on halal economy in the country, especially attracting focus investors.
For this to become a reality, Adesugba called for collaboration, adding organisations, associations, accreditation bodies, as well as advisory firms would need to support the entire value chain right from research and development, product development to sourcing production, logistics, sales and marketing.
Adesugba said: “There is the need to promote our halal standards as a way of attracting enterprises within the halal industry.”
International President, Business and Professional Women (BPW) and President, Egyptian Business Women Association (EBWA) Dr. Asfour Arnma, said Africa’s growing consumer population remained a plus for halal economy on the continent.
She said: “It is really important that we link our businesses together, that we make sure that we, as Africans, come together and know about ourselves. It’s also very important to understand that we need to have our own machines that we can work with.”
Arnma insisted that Africa could create its own halal standards and certification, adding that there was no need for other continents to dictate what the standards would be.
The Director-General of the chamber, Victoria Akai said the event would increase Nigeria’s presence in the Global Halal Ecosystem, increase and create awareness about the Halal Industry in Nigeria, and in Africa, harmonize all the various Halal certification bodies into one government recognized institution and enhance better synergy with other regulatory bodies and increase investment opportunities between Nigeria and the other global Halal players.