Growing customer awareness for food safety and product quality in European markets has increased the expectations of retailers towards their suppliers. Goods imported into the European Union, for instance, need to comply with strict quality and consumer protection standards. Many African companies do not meet the required standards or do not have the necessary certificate to access these new markets. Reasons can be limitations in knowledge transfer, financial resources or a quality infrastructure unable to meet all demands of their clients.
The Alliance for Product Quality in Africa is an initiative supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with the aim to address this situation. It forges partnerships aiming to improve product quality in Africa so that African companies can access global value chains. Companies and business associations join hands with German Development Cooperation to strengthen the local quality infrastructure and improve access to essential services such as product tests and certification. They support local producers in obtaining certification and meeting required standards, improving quality management skills and establishing quality management systems.
As a result, the Alliance creates a win-win situation for African and European businesses alike: African businesses can increase exports while international buyers get access to new markets with certified quality products.
In Ghana, for instance, the Alliance supports 200 farmers financially and through training in setting up their own internal control system and getting GLOBALG.A.P. or organic certified. In addition, six agro-processors receive support in obtaining International Features Standards (IFS) or ISO 14001 certification. After successful certification these companies fulfill major requirements for international buyers and can therefore access regional and international markets. At the same time, international importers benefit from having a wider network of suppliers at hand who can reliably provide them with high-quality produce.
On behalf of BMZ, the secretariat of the Alliance is run jointly by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the National Metrology Institute of Germany (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, PTB). They support private sector actors with their network and information, guide the development of project ideas and mobilise the necessary resources to put them into action.
Geographically, the Alliance currently focuses on the countries Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. The Alliance is not restricted to specific sectors - its activities are geared towards the demand of regional and international markets. Due to the diversity of the countries and sectors the Alliance works in, there is no blueprint for its work. Each project idea is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to allow for tailor-made solutions.
Stefan Weyler, Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (giz) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
To find out more, contact Stefan Weyler (GIZ): Stefan.firstname.lastname@example.org or Darinka Blies (PTB): Darinka.email@example.com