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Monday, 15 February 2016, Kigali - COMESA Business Council’s (CBC) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Rwanda is conducting a training workshop dubbed Local Sourcing Partnerships to encourage the consumption of home-grown products within the region.

“In the next one year, we want to see more than Rwanda’s corporate market sourcing their products locally. This project is timely as it addresses the core gaps of our local industry provides a solution on improving competitiveness, quality control and consistency of supply of our products into regional and international markets.”

This was said by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Emmanuel Hategeka ahead of the Local Sourcing for Partnerships training workshop that is to take place on the 16- 19th February, 2016 at the Serena Kigali, Hotel.

The meeting is hosted by the COMESA Business Council’s (CBC) and Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The workshop is part of an ongoing project known as the CBC Local Sourcing for Partnerships (LSP) project supported by the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), USAID-IPAA, in collaboration with the public and Private sector bodies in the six countries where the pilot phase of the project will be implemented.

The countries are Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Malawi. The key focus sectors of the training are from the suppliers- fruits and vegetables, dairy and dairy products, apiculture, cassava among others. The potential buyers of the project will come from the food and beverages industry, hospitality industry and the retail outlets such as supermarket chains.

Commenting on the event, CBC’s Chief Executive Officer Ms. Sandra Uwera said, “We need to upgrade enterprises to meet the demands of today’s urban African consumers. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this kind of trainings in building the capacity of growth enterprises, whilst integrating them into supply chains of larger industries in the region.”

Local sourcing within the COMESA region remains critically low which indicates the need to structure mechanisms that can encourage the consumption of home-grown products within the COMESA region.

Considered timely, the training workshop is being held from 16th-19th February 2016 at Serena Hotel in Kigali Rwanda. This comes after the successful completion of a similar training in Zambia that saw a total of 80 suppliers trained on quality standards and food safety from 25-28th January 2016 at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia.

“With the training on standards and food safety requirements for enterprises, and the commitment from the private sector in implementing the initiatives such as the Made in Rwanda Campaign, I am confident that our local industry will benefit from the project,” Hategeka said.

Companies often source outside the region due to various reasons which include the limitations of the local market in meeting the basic requirements of time, cost, quality and consistency in supply. Secondly, the challenge of limited and credible information local distributors and suppliers affects partnership confidence between buyers and suppliers.

The training will address core challenges faced by enterprises while trading in the market which include;

The failure of SMEs to meet the international standards requirements, Inconsistent supply from local SMEs, Limited credible information on local suppliers, and lastly, the existing assumption that local sourcing partnerships are viewed as a difficult, unstable process.

The goal of the LSP training workshops is to build inclusive growth of SMEs in business processes, establish job creation of SMEs and to contribute to overall improvement of intra-trade development in COMESA, promote and facilitate international market access of local products.

During the training workshop, participants will be trained on the Hazard Analysis $Critical Points (HACCP) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) management system, which includes various models such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Principles of Food Hygiene, Primary Production, Controls Systems, maintenance and Sanitation, Personal Hygiene, Product Information and Documentation among others. The training approach will include both in-house classes and field tours to various businesses operating in the Rwandan market.

It is expected that 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 Buyer agreements with a number of private sector companies, namely- Serena Uganda, Protea Kampala, Protea Lusaka and 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.