Rwanda hosted the first international conference Sustainable Packaging for Competitiveness and Development on SMEs in EAC Region in early June organised by Ipack-Ima with the support of the Italian Trade Promotion Agency and the Italian Ministry of Economic Development in partnership with UNIDO and Kenyas Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development.
The event, presided by Prof. Claudio Peri, Professor Emeritus of the University of Milan, presented a speech agenda that raised the interest of a large, attentive public. Both organisers and partners had a double objective: to emphasise the importance of packaging as a strategic leverage for technological upgrade and increased competitiveness of local SMEs; in this connection, a dedicated paper was presented at the CAMI conference last week will gather the Ministers of Industrialization from across the continent in Nairobi; promote East Afripack 2014, the first exhibition showcasing the global state of the art of processing, packaging and converting technology scheduled for September 9-12 in Nairobi.
The issue of technology and competitiveness of the local entrepreneurial tissue is of great current interest in East Africa. On 1 June the newly elected President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta declared: With respect to value addition, we want to see more cooperatives venture not only into value addition but also packaging, branding and marketing of highly quality products.
The Kigali conference is just one more step in the path leading up to East Afripack 2014 which includes roadshows and presentations across the region to the end of uniting and building awareness among the local business community on the issues connected to processing and packaging technology and promote the 2014 event. In this connection, in order to better understand the innovation drivers and needs of the local industry, Ipack-Ima SpA has commissioned UNIDO to perform a market research involving the most significant industries (both food and non-food) across the entire East Africa region: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda. The most significant evidence emerging from the study shows that:
– 63% of interviewees intend to plan technology investment in the next three years to expand their manufacturing activities;
– 78 % plan to update their processing and packaging machinery in the next 3 years;
– 70% believe that a better packaging technology improves their products image and branding.
In 2000 The Economist dedicated the cover to the African continent with a headline that read The hopeless Continent; after 11 years The Economist changed the title to Africa Rising.
According to estimates by UNIDO, in the past decade 6 out of 10 emerging economies enjoying the highest growth rates have been located in Africa. In 2012 IMF estimated Africas economic growth at nearly 6%, the same as Asias. Emerging industries include: finance, distribution; agro-food; transport and telecommunications. Both data and forecasts bode very well for East Afripack 2014.