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.


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