An ailing packaging trade, identified as disadvantageous to Sierra Leone’s export industry and exacerbated by the Ebola crisis, stands to be revitalized thanks to a consultation to rebuild the nation’s economy.
With the ultimate goal of helping to jumpstart existing small and medium businesses (SMEs), the gathering will examine ways to improve the quality of packaging in fields, such as agricultural processing and manufacturing. The consultation will strive to create an action plan through the Sierra Leone Ministry of Trade & Industry and the Sierra Leone Investment & Export Promotion Agency.
“Good quality packaging and labeling is of critical importance to improving the competitiveness of Sierra Leone’s exports to enable the country to increase its market access,” Paulo Kautoke, director of trade at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said. “That’s why it is important that key stakeholders, particularly the private sector, have a forum and mechanism to discuss and plan the packaging needs of industry.”
A previous study by the Commonwealth Secretariat found that poor packaging quality impacted Sierra Leone’s prospects of exporting globally and that the Ebola outbreak cost Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia a minimum of $2 billion in lost economic growth from 2014 to 2015.
“When SMEs are able to connect to international markets…the prospects for growth of the economy and job creation are particularly high,” Raymond Kai Gbekie, Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency chief executive, said. “We are particularly excited about this project because our current strategy focuses on the promotion of sustainable supply chains as a means of helping SMEs add value to their products and services.”