International trade has long been recognized as Africa’s answer to overcome the disadvantages of the continent’s relatively small economies, the fluctuating and mostly negative trends in international terms of trade, and the legacy of colonialism as well as policy shortcomings, which have prevented the continent from assuming a global market share befitting its significant market size and natural resource endowments. Trade is key to Africa’s long-term sustainable economic growth and transformation.

However, Africa has continued to play a minimal role in global agricultural trade—its share of world agricultural trade grew only marginally from 4.3 percent to 5.0 percent between 2005 and 2017. And despite the strengthening of the continent’s comparative advantage in agricultural products in recent years, its advantage has largely been limited to unprocessed and semi-processed products. Non-tariff barriers present the biggest impediment to Africa’s trade performance, and to a lesser extent the lack of agricultural product diversification and high trading costs.

Food production, processing, and marketing in the COMESA Region is highly fragmented among many small producers, processors and handlers who lack appropriate knowledge and expertise in the application of modern practices and food hygiene. The challenges and capacity gaps for these small and medium size enterprises to supply safe and quality food are multi-faceted:

  • few well established systems and programmes for assisting the less developed food enterprises to develop their capacity
  • lack of effective public policies and institutions to provide regulatory oversight.
  • too few trained and skilled people to carry out food safety activities in both the public sector and in small-and medium-size enterprises (SME’s)
  • inadequate laboratory testing capacity to identify food safety risks.
  • low levels of investment and compliance with international standards
  • weak monitoring and enforcement of regulations by competent authorities
  • low levels of literacy among most of the food producers and processors
  • fragmented and disconnected food systems,
  • Unaffordable and cumbersome conformity assessment systems

Sustainable and resilient food and agri-food businesses need to have market access to local, regional and global markets through compliance with internationally recognized food safety standards as well as market-driven safety and quality schemes. Recognizing the importance of this, COMESA’s Food Safety Programme has been designed to enhance food safety culture amongst competent authorities as well as industry and value chain actors in national, regional and global supply chains. The Programme recognizes the catalytic role of industry, especially SMEs, and thus places them at the centre-stage in order to enable sustainable implementation outcomes through effective capacity building interventions.

Towards this end, COMESA has, riding on the back of lessons learnt from the GFSI Global Markets Programmes implemented in some countries in the region and beyond (Malaysia, Egypt and a pilot carried out in Zambia between 2012-2014), initiated rolling-out of the first ever region-wide Global Markets Programme through development and implementation of a tailored Scheme fully anchored on the GFSI Global Markets order to address the underlying challenges and dynamics that inhibit SMEs (primary producers and food processors) compliance and access to regional and global markets.

The project is anchored under the EDF 11 funded COMESA REGIONAL ENTERPRISE COMPETITIVENESS AND ACCESS TO MARKETS PROGRAMME (RECAMP) Sub-result 1.2 of the Programme: Capacities of beneficiary firms related to SPS and regional standards and quality management are improved, including social and environment standards required under the WTO and/or EU market.

The COMESA project forms the first of its kind for a region-wide programme, which will be implemented with technical support from an International Expert with extensive expertise and experience in projects of this nature recruited through competitive bidding. The primary objective is to facilitate market access, create mutual acceptance along the supply chain and provide a framework for mentoring small/less developed food businesses in the Member States.

Given the project wide scope incorporating several activities and sub-activities to be carried out over a protracted period, the assignment has been divided into 2 Phases. to be implemented consecutively. Phase I focuses on the design and development of the regional GMaP scheme itself, its validation by the participating Member States stakeholders as well as establishment of an online platform of the scheme. Phase II entails implementation of the developed scheme as well as key related imperatives covering global recognition requirements and perspectives.

  1. Description of the Assignment

2.1 Objective

The overall objective of the assignment is to enhance SPS/Technical standards and quality management capacities of SMEs through the development and implementation of a voluntary capacity building scheme based on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Global Markets Programme (GMaP) for both primary and processing sectors.

The COMESA Secretariat herewith invites companies/firms to submit Applications for Expression of Interest (EOI) for the following contract: CONTRACT TO DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A REGIONAL VOLUNTARY CAPACITY BUILDING SCHEME BASED ON THE GLOBAL MARKETS PROGRAMME (GMaP) OF THE GLOBAL FOOD SAFETY INITIATIVE (GFSI)

Click on the link below for more details.