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EU backs SMEs in agro-industry

Seven Local SMEs in the agro-industry have been selected to benefit from technical and financial support through the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE) for the Competitiveness Enhancement Programme in Agro-Industries in Namibia.
The selected SMEs specialise in the fields of winery/grape, cereal processing, horticulture and beef processing.
Competitive Enhancement Programme (CEP) is aimed at improving and strengthening SADC SMEs that operates in the Agro – industries. The program covers Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
“These sectors are indeed significant providers of employment through value additions while providing opportunities for job seekers on the rural labour market characterised by high levels of unemployment. I sincerely believe that innovative approaches and empowering SMEs through investment in their capacities are the kind of interventions we should promote,” said  H.E Raul Fuentes Milani, EU Ambassador to Namibia.
According to Malani, the European Union considers economic growth and employment creation as key elements of poverty reduction. The establishment of viable agro-processing enterprises is crucial to create employment and income opportunities. Industries are the backbone of the economy and therefore there is potential for agro industry to play a key role towards the realisation of national development goals.
“Therefore, agro industries can play a pivotal role in the value chain linking the primary rural producers to the market. For that reason the strengthening and promotion of agro industries in Namibia is very important as also recognised in NDP4, namely high and sustainable economic growth, employment creation and increase in income equality,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Sid Boubekeur, Regional Head of CDE, Kauna Ndilula, CDE local technical Intervention Office representative said, CDE is committed to the development of private sector in Namibia and the region and is currently working with tourism boards and associations in Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana in order to harmonise the grading standards in the hospitality sector.
“For the improvement of access to finance by SMEs, CDE is partnering with key financial institutions in Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe for pre and post technical assistance. Lastly, for access to markets, CDE is working and coordinating with Phytotrade Africa as well as addressing access to market issues within the CEP Agro Programme,” said Boubekeur.
He further stated that future programmes in the pipeline that will cover Namibia include the aquaculture and ICT programmes.
“Some of the initiatives that CDE is undertaking in the region that also benefits Namibian SMEs includes the Energy Efficiency Management Program (EEMP), the development of the Regional Tourism information portal through RETOSA and the Competitive Enhancement Programme (CEP),” he added.

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