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The COMESA Business Council through the Local Sourcing for Partnerships (LSP) programme conducted the first training of its kind in Zambia for 80 food suppliers on quality standards and food safety.

The LSP is a one year project supported by the  and the local Private sector.

 

 

The training was anchored on the theme, “Building Sustainable Sourcing Partnerships between SMEs and Corporate Companies”, and it was considered well-timed, following concerns of a drop in trade within the COMESA region.

 

Latest statistics show that total intra-COMESA exports slightly increased by 1.9% from US$ 9.9 billion in 2013 to US$ 10.1 billion in 2014, while intra-COMESA imports 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.

 

Speaking at the official opening of the training workshop on 25th January 2016, in Lusaka, Zambia’s Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe, said the concept of local partnership is key to boosting a consistent business flow and strong linkages amongst Small and Medium Enterprises and larger industrial players. She added that these linkages are captured in all aspects of trade from goods to the service industry.

 

“……as government we implore the hotel industry in Africa to practice responsible procurement services that boost the local communities in which they have presence because such an approach requires innovative ways of strengthening the local SMEs to become key partners in business. Through public-private initiatives, we can work on building such alliances with each other”, Hon. Mwanakatwe said in a speech read on her behalf by the Director, Domestic Trade Mr John Mulongoti.

 

The minister further added that there is a strong relation between the rate of industrialization of the any country or between manufacturing and the real Gross Domestic Product of a country as well as a positive correlation between participation in value chains and economic and manufacturing competitiveness.

 

Meanwhile, Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) Chief Executive Officer Maybin Nsupila said his association treasures the partnership with COMESA as enshrined in the “Proudly Zambian” campaign launched last year in 2015. He described this training as a symbol of the public-private partnership towards boosting local industry to become key performers in national and cross border trade.

 

“It’s our hope that the SMEs who are present in this training workshop will undertake to forge partnerships with large corporate companies in order to improve their capacities”, Mr Nsupila said.

 

COMESA Business council (CBC) Chief Executive Officer Sandra Uwera said her association was confident that the partnership with the ZAM in implementing the Local Sourcing for Partnerships project would yield positive results.

 

 

“This training workshop is the first phase of a one year project to improve the quality and standards of food suppliers and other value actors in the hospitality, food and beverages industry among other sectors so that they are able to efficiently perform and create sustainable partnerships with the corporate and multinational companies. It is our vision that the SMEs who will benefit from this project will become regional market players,” Ms Uwera pointed out.

 

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, and Zambia. In Zambia, the Zambia Association of Manufactures (ZAM) is the implementing partner for the project.

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.