Friday, August 30, 2019

USAID offers $35 for training East African Freight Forwarders

The Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association (FEAFFA), East Africa’s Freight Forwarders body has today received USD 3.5Million from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) a leading regional trade facilitation body. 

This is in support of a four-year programme that aims at enhancing skills for customs agents, freight forwarders and warehouse providers in East Africa. The programme, implemented by FEAFFA across East Africa, will offer timely training that is in tune with changing technologies and logistical needs, thus enabling customs agents and freight forwarders to provide competitive and high-quality end to end services.

The two institutions made the announcement as they signed a grant agreement at the ongoing Global Logistics Convention in Kigali. TMEA was represented by its member of the Board of Directors, Ms. Patricia Ithau and FEAFFA was represented by its President, Mr. Fred Seka.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the funding through TMEA. USAID is one of TMEA’s 10 donors.

Dubbed the EAC Logistics Sector Skills Enhancement Program; this new initiative will meet the need of the identified large skills gap in the EACs logistics sector; which has resulted into high costs to business. 

Either because a freight forwarder is unaware of certain regulations, or a custom agent is not conversant with multiple country regimes. The two partners said that they expect the programme to evolve into self-sustaining training activities through a robust sustainability model that will generate training related revenue.

“The high logistics costs in East Africa are driven not only by the high cost of inputs required for delivery of goods but also the inefficiencies and poor quality of logistics service delivery,” said Ms. Ithau.

Mr. Seka highlighted important components of the programme saying, “One key component is the updating of the East Africa Customs and Freight Forwarding Practicing Certificate (EACFFPC) curriculum and training materials. 

A strong warehousing module will be introduced to address the skills gaps in this critical element of logistics. We have focused on enhancing FEAFFA’s online learning programme as this will ensure that training is available and accessible in many parts of the region. 

With this funding, FEAFFA will introduce a higher - level qualification that will build on the success of the certificate program. The higher-level training program intends to expose practitioners to global practices and position them as global logisticians”.

A market study conducted by TradeMark East Africa in 2016 found that there was a lack of capacity building in the transport and logistics sector throughout the EAC region. The study established that clearing and forwarding agents had little access to changes in regulations and new technologies adopted by relevant government bodies; and this compelled shippers to understand the clearing process, an additional skill outside their core area of business. 

It also established there were limited formal training opportunities in warehousing, resulting in warehouse functionaries learning the basics on the job. Besides, the few existing logistics capacity building programs are provided in large cities; and this locks out operators at far flung regional economic centres and at major border posts to access them.

The programme will: Develop a continuous professional development (CPD) program that will keep practitioners abreast with emerging trends in the industry. Support domestication of the regional model bill on self-regulation for customs agents and freight forwarders in EAC Partner States.

The EAC Logistics Sector Skills Enhancement Program builds on the many years of successful implementation of the East Africa Customs and Freight Forwarding Practicing Certificate (EACFFPC).

EACFFPC is a mandatory training program for customs agents and freight forwarders developed jointly in 2007 by freight forwarders under FEAFFA, East Africa Revenue Authorities and the EAC Directorate of Customs.

“More than 6000 customs agents and freight forwarders have graduated from the EACFFPC program across the East Africa since it was launched in 2007” said Elias Baluku, FEAFFA’s Ag. Executive Director as he expressed optimism that the new programme will enable the institution double this number.


Sunday, August 4, 2019

New contraceptive choices for Niger women

By Esther Nakkazi
Niger, a country in central Africa with one of the highest fertility rates in the world has added more contraceptive choices for women in reproductive ages.

The Caya™ diaphragm and Caya™ Gel were launched in Niger in mid-July and mark the first new non-hormonal contraceptive options to become available on the African continent.

They both are non-hormonal, discreet and reusable barrier methods. They were launched in Niger with support from the Expanding Effective Contraceptive Options (EECO) project funded by USAID.

"Women's contraceptive needs change throughout their lives and they need methods that align with their unique circumstances," said Shannon Bledsoe, WCG Executive Director. "The introduction of this on-demand, non-hormonal method gives women in Niger one more contraceptive choice."

The EECO project, led by WCG and implemented in partnership with PSI, was designed to support the introduction of new and improved contraceptive methods that address method-related reasons for non-use of family planning to better meet the reproductive health needs of women and girls worldwide.

The global health nonprofit PATH developed the Caya diaphragm through a human-centered design process to expand women’s access to affordable, nonhormonal contraceptive options in countries across the world.

According to a press statement from WCG, PSI will market and distribute the Caya™ Diaphragm and Caya™ Gel in Niger's capital of Niamey, training community health workers and healthcare providers to offer the method to women alongside other options within the context of informed choice.

It says unlike previous iterations of the diaphragm, the Caya™ Diaphragm is "one size fits most," eliminating the need for a provider fitting in countries like Niger with shortages of trained healthcare providers.

"Our market research shows that women and men desire more contraceptive options that are within their control and have no side effects," said Moumouni Boubacar, EECO Project Manager at PSI Niger. "The Caya™ Diaphragm puts power in the hands of the couple.”

Officials from the project say the diaphragm’s expansion to Niger and planned marketing of the product will lead to greater access within the country and lay the groundwork for expansion to additional countries. The Caya products also recently received regulatory approval in Nigeria.

Since the diaphragm was made available, they have also not reported any cultural or religious issues and women have been particularly drawn to the idea of a method with no side effects that can be used on-demand rather than continuously.

Niger has one of the world's highest fertility rates, with women having more than seven children in their lifetime on average, in part due to extremely low use of contraception.