#Training …East Africa, COMESA Business Council Holds Trainings for 80 Food Suppliers in Zambia

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The COMESA Business Council’s (CBC) Local Sourcing for Partnerships (LSP) project supported by the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), USAID and the Private sector will hold the first training of its kind in Zambia for 80 food suppliers on quality standards and food safety. The training will take place from 25-28th January 2016 at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia.

Speaking ahead of the training, Ms. Sandra Uwera, CBC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “I see this initiative as a progressive step forward in building the capacity of growth enterprises, whilst integrating them into supply chains of larger industries in the region.”

Anchored on the theme, “Building Sustainable Sourcing Partnerships between SMEs and Corporate Companies”, the training is considered well-timed, following concerns of a drop in trade within the COMESA region. Where, intra-COMESA total exports slightly increased by 1.9% from US$ 9.9 billion in 2013 to US$ 10.1 billion in 2014, intra-COMESA imports however dropped by 4.4% from US$ 11.0 billion in 2013 to US$ 10.6 billion in 2014. This shows the need to structure mechanisms that can ensure intra-trade growth by encouraging the consumption of homegrown products within the COMESA region, where local sourcing remains critically low.

Commenting on the event, William Asiko, ICF’s CEO said, “Capacity building is a crucial component of ICF’s projects and plays a vital role in improving the business environment. This training marks a significant milestone towards boosting the capacity of local food suppliers in the COMESA region.”

As a strategic response, the LSP project aims to increase local sourcing by large corporate companies in the COMESA region from small growth enterprise within the hospitality and agro-industry sector, focusing mainly on food and beverages. The project is being piloted in six COMESA states namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. In Zambia, the Zambia Association of Manufactures (ZAM) is the implementing partner for the project.
A number of Multinationals often decide to source outside the region due to various reasons such as: the majority of local suppliers fail to meet the international quality standard requirements demanded for food and beverages suppliers, and most Multinationals have limited credible information on local suppliers. Additionally, local sourcing partnerships are viewed as difficult, unstable processes due to the inconsistence of supplying as well as their small production units and quantities.
At the end of the project a local sourcing recognition certificate will be awarded to corporate companies that promote local sourcing as practitioners of the Responsible Procurement policies in Africa. To date, CBC has entered in agreements with a number of private sector companies in the hospitality industry, namely- Serena Uganda, Protea Kampala, Protea Lusaka, Taj Pamodzi Zambia. The aim is to link them with the successful local suppliers who have undergone training, thus supporting them to increase their share of local sourcing.

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