PUBLISHED ON February 13th, 2015

East Africa: Increasing business competitiveness, promoting trade in Eastern Africa

Enterprises working in the honey, mango and spice sectors in Eastern Africa are set to expand and become more competitive through a new project that targets sector-led growth in the region.

The ‘Promoting Intraregional Trade in Eastern Africa’ project, implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and funded by the Government of Finland, focuses on increasing exports from Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

Representatives of the three countries as well as ITC and the Finnish Foreign Ministry- who together make up the project steering committee – met in Helsinki on 30 January to discuss progress over the past year as well as work planned for 2015.

Tracking business impact

In Kenya, ITC has partnered with Bosch, a German engineering and electronics firm, to train three Kenyan small and medium-sized enterprises operating in food processing and distribution in applying so-called ‘L ean Methodology’ to their production and delivery processes, through interactive workshops and factory visits. By stripping out unnecessary or inefficient practices in the production process, the methodology reduces costs and increases productivity. All three enterprises reported significant improvements in their operational efficiencies, leading to greater competitiveness and profitability.

In the United Republic of Tanzania, trade support institutions (TSIs) in the honey and mango sectors have strengthened regional cooperation. The Tanzanian Association of Mango Growers visited Mali to learn about best practices and supply chain solutions for exporting to international markets. Honey producers grew their business networks by participating in the honey exposition ApiExpo in Harare: as a result, a Tanzanian beeswax producer found a distributor for its cosmetic products in Zimbabwe.

In Zambia, the project has contributed to new product and packaging standards. After a Zambian delegation attended the packaging conference Propak East Africa in Nairobi, and visited the Kenya Bureau of Standards, 16 standards based on Kenyan equivalents were submitted for public review. Additionally, Zambia adopted 26 International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards.

Representatives of TSIs in the honey, mango and spice sectors explored opportunities for business in Finnish and Nordic markets on 29 January through visits to four Finnish institutions operating in agro-food value chains.

At Kesko Corporation’s K-citymarket, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the Nordic countries, participants learned about product positioning, branding and packaging. At Reilu kauppa (Fairtrade Finland), the delegates learned how their products could benefit from the Fairtrade mark, which enforces social standards in trade and supports farmers and producers.

At the Finnish Beekeepers’ Association, the three honey TSIs from Tanzania and Zambia saw first-hand how their Finnish counterparts run their organization.

At Finnpartnership, the delegation learned about the support provided to business partnerships between companies in Finland and in developing countries. Finnpartnership offers free advisory services for business operations in developing countries.

Source: All Africa

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.