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Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa on Food Safety

COMESA

COMESA, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, together with the COMESA Business Council, sought the assistance of the Kampala Serena Hotel to provide an appropriate venue for their capacity building partnership workshop dedicated to the hospitality industry’s food safety systems aimed to improve the understanding of the challenges this poses for in particular small and medium enterprises, in other words entrepreneurs in the hotel and restaurant business without the benefit of having management companies with knowledge about challenges and solutions guide them towards safe operations.

The Kampala Serena it is understood was swift to offer preferential rates to hold the three day workshop at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre where besides East Africa’s leading hotel, resort and safari lodge group are also Protea East Africa and InterContinental Hotels on board, partnering with COMESA in their endeavours, as is USAID which is also supporting this and other similar workshops across the COMESA region.

Africa’s international tourist arrivals and receipts have sharply increased over the last decade, growing from 33.8 million in 2004 to 56 million in 2013, representing an annual growth rate at 6.1%, according to figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

In the hotel industry have the regional capitals experienced a steep increase in hotel room supply over the last few years, also due to the large demand stemming from the worldwide meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions industry that has earmarked the region. The MICE market is valued at $30 billion, with hotels accounting for 60% of the total value, according to various reports.

The COMESA workshop in Kampala seeks to encourage a component on the responsible procurement policy that focuses on local supplier improvement mechanisms. The project seeks to work with key players in the hotel industry to select suppliers who have shown a keen commitment to embarking on systematic, collaborative improvement processes that will encourage their inclusiveness within the supply chain network of the hotel industries. The project, this correspondent was told, will work with the selected suppliers who currently have poor food safety management systems, that can be built in terms of technical capacity strengthening. The goal is long-term mutual success for the hotels and the suppliers and implied, better standards and food safety for guests in hotels and restaurants.

It should be noted that sourcing food and drink locally is now an established if not encouraged strategy for many in the hospitality industry and the practice will continue to expand into other areas of procurement. The benefits of local sourcing are many, including reducing transportation costs, support for the local economy, creation of jobs and a strong community relationship, and more certainty and predictability of delivery. The encouragement of local procurement sourcing in food supply and other areas along the value chain, greatly contributes to wealth creation and sustainability of the supply chains at a firm level and in the region.

The COMESA Business Council has partnered with the COMESA Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) Unit to implement a food safety training program for SMEs in the food supply business, to meet the key food safety requirements demanded by the hotel industry in order to encourage local penetration of local food suppliers into the formal supply chain industry and hotels.

The training program is known as the Global Food Safety Initiative- GFSI. The GFSI is aimed at improving the businesses that are having challenges to implement the Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) Systems for food safety management. HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.

COMESA and the participating partners hope to achieve the following results:

· 48 food suppliers and 12 managers in the hospitality industry trained on the GFSI standard on food safety management to access procurement systems in three hotel groups in Africa.

· % suppliers are integrated into the supply chain of three hotel groups in Africa following the training;

· Increased participation of local food suppliers in the supply chain networks of Multi-National Companies in Africa.

At hand at the opening tomorrow will be the COMESA Business Council Chairperson Dr. Amany Asfour, the CBC Coordinator Ms. Sandra Uwesa and local officials from the Uganda Private Sector Foundation, the local hotel association as well as ministry and city authority officials.

Source: Prof. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa Correspondent

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