LAGOS: The need for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria to take advantage of the huge opportunities created by the emerging halal industry was on the front burner at the second edition of the International Halal Seminar held in Lagos.
The event themed ‘Emerging Halal Market: Tool for Economic Growth’ was organised by Halal Certification Authority (HCA) to educate the general public – Muslims and non-Muslims – on halal and certification processes.
It was attended physically and virtually by representatives of government agencies, manufacturing and service industries, academia, captains of industry, halal professionals, managers, students and other stakeholders within and outside the country.
‘Some Muslims don’t know the difference between Halal, non-Halal products’
Speaking on the importance of organising the seminar, the chairman of HCA, Professor Ibrahim Oreagba, said the organisation was primarily responsible for certifying products.
“It confirms that products and services and their processes are halal. However, part of our responsibility is also to enlighten the general public about the halal industry.
“We realise that a lot of people do not even understand what halal is. Even some Muslims don’t know the difference between halal and non- halal products. So, it is our duty to create awareness and this international seminar is one way of educating the public and our clients in the industry on halal and certification processes,” he said.
Oreagba, a professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Lagos, noted that halal, according to the Shari’ah, is a term which means permissible, adding that it can also be referred to as wholesomeness, purity and healthy.
He said halal “doesn’t refer only to food, it actually refers to way of life.”
Also, erudite Islamic scholar, Professor AbdulMajeed AbdurRazaq Alaro, speaking on the theme, described the halal industry – which includes food and non-food products and services – as an alternative source of income for Nigeria with a huge market of about $5 trillion share globally.
He said: “When we look at it from pure economic perspective, the halal industry is needed in Nigeria. We all know that the mainstay of our economy as a nation as we speak is oil and the whole world today is already planning for life after oil, even those that have bigger and better capacities in terms of oil reserves and capacity to produce and market. They are already looking for what comes after the oil exploration and production as the mainstay of their economies.
“So, when we look at it from that angle, we don’t have to close our eyes to other alternative sources of income for us as a nation. So, the halal industry will provide one of the many alternatives that are available. It is a very big market today. We are talking of a market that has a share of about $5 trillion globally. Hence, it is better for us to look at that direction too by way of diversifying our sources of income as a nation to continue to grow our economy and to continue to develop our country.”
Alaro, a professor of Islamic Law at the University of Ilorin, however, disclosed that the halal industry was currently at the elementary stage in Nigeria with an insignificant market share.
“We are just beginning. When you look at even what we can describe as the halal industry report, hardly will you find anything referring to the status of halal marketing in Nigeria. Why? Because it is very insignificant if we look at the market share. Already, I told you the global worth of the market is about 5 trillion dollars, but we don’t even account for 1% of this market share globally.
“But I believe it is a very good beginning. What we are doing here today is to create awareness for people to look in that direction. There is ample opportunity that is waiting for us in that direction as a nation. We should just try to take that advantage.
“It is interesting when you look at the latest ranking of countries in the halal sector. Nigeria is not captured in most of the segments, just one. It is quite encouraging that Nigeria performed very well by coming 13th in the world in the Islamic financial sector. My interpretation is that if we can try to achieve our potentials in other sectors (segments) of the halal economy, I believe we will improve our ranking and it will be very good for us as a nation, but as we speak, the market share is so insignificant in this country,” he noted.
Professor Alaro said that despite the poor assessment of the industry in Nigeria, its good and services are accessible globally, with Brazil, a non-Muslim dominated country, as the number one exporter of halal foods industry.
“Others are India, United States of America, etc. This is to tell you that the halal industry is accessible to the entire world already, but what is quite unfortunate is that Nigeria ought to have taken the advantage of having a very huge population of Muslims. That should be to our own advantage and that is what we are calling for, but Halal is already in every major economy of the world today. It’s not new and it is not strange,” he noted.
According to Muslim News, during the technical session, papers addressing different related topics were also presented by professionals.
While Malaysian scholar, Dr Betania Kartika Muflih, spoke on ‘Overview of the Halal Industry in Africa’, her counterpart from Nigeria, Dr Tajudeen Yusuf, looked at ‘Halal Finance: Opportunities for Nigerian Economic Growth’. The Director, Regulations and Compliance of the HCA, Nigeria, Alhaji AbdulAzeez Ajala, discussed the topic ‘Halal Certification: Prospects for AfCFTA Implementation’.
© Nigerian Tribune