By Tatenda Mujeyi
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council, is hosting a local sourcing for Partnership Workshop at the Monomotapa Hotel in Harare.
The COMESA Business Council is the apex Business body of COMESA, with the mandate of representing the private sector to governments and decision makers in the COMESA region.
“We are recognised Business apex body in the COMESA region, which represents and articulates all the interests of the private sector to the highest offices of decision making in the region” CBC CEO Sandra Uwere.
The local sourcing Partnership Workshop is aimed at steering growth of inter-COMESA trade to boost growth of the Eastern and Southern Africa region.
“The COMESA region carries a large market of the African continent, with a population of more than 540 million consumer’s and total trade of US$240 billion recorded in 2017. Intra COMESA trade represents a minute 6.7%.”
The meeting follows the TFTA agreement in 2017 that offers even greater opportunities that need to be tapped into with success already realised as legal ratifications that have been signed.
“The signature of the TFTA agreement in 2017 between COMESA, EAC, and SADC provides for even a greater opportunity with an estimate of even 700million consumer’s. More recent the CFTA is coming into fruition with 22 ratifications already been met. This offers a combined population of 1.6 billion consumer’s” Uwere also said.
The workshop is designed to strengthen local Products and SME’s so a to increase the market share of local Products and firm’s as well as create employment.
“ The agenda before us is very pertinent to the above. How do we strengthen our SMEs? How do we promote consumer confidence in locally produced products? How do we increase our market share, create jobs and transform our economies? It is all determined by the growth of our local enterprises” The CBC CEO added.
The workshop bemoaned the low value addition, beneficiation by the African producers.
“It is undeniable that Africa captures a small share of global value-added trade and intra-regional trade still remains on average around 11% of total trade” Uwere also said.
The workshop also seeks to devise mechanisms to enhance agriculture capacity to enable food sourcing intra COMESA to enable self sufficiency.
“Africa remains a net importer of food and agriculture products despite it’s great reliance on agriculture. Estimates suggest a food bill as high as US35 billion annually. I implore the private sector in both sectors to explore and understand the benefits of local sourcing to our businesses and economies at national and regional level” the CEO also said.
The workshop series has been running since 2006 with great success in terms of strengthening SME’S through quality compliance.
“ The LSP project has successful conducted similar trainings on quality and food safety standards that benefits more than 620 agro food suppliers in 9countries; Ethiopia,Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, and Africa. Over 15 business contracts have been signed.” She further said.
The Zimbabwean workshop is running from the 15th to the 17th at Monomotapa in partnership with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and USAID under the theme “Building SME competitiveness in Regional Markets through Standards”.