Buy Zimbabwe, a buy local campaigner has inked a deal with Business Standards and Systems Certification (BSSC) that will give ratings and certify locally manufactured products to ensure competitiveness against regional brands in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The buy local lobby group is also pushing government to grant tax incentives for those brands that get higher ratings as part of efforts to encourage local production using locally produced inputs.
“At Buy Zimbabwe we have always said from the beginning buying local must not be a call to buy mediocre. We must compete at the highest level of standards in terms of taste, in terms of packaging and everything,” said Buy Zimbabwe Chairman, Munyaradzi Hwengwere.
“The idea of AfCFTA is meant to benefit Africans in terms of wealth, in terms of jobs and pride. The issues of rules of origin and local content are central to it.”
The rating will look at issues of product quality and competitiveness and also at how much of local content was used in the manufacture of that product such that the highest rating will entail that a product is purely Zimbabwean.
This comes in the wake of concerns that some external brands may want to exploit AfCFTA by bringing their products branded African when in essence the production and ingredients would have come externally.
The ratings will come in Star categories with the lowest rating being a one star, for a product rated 50 percent by the BSSC while the highest being a 5 star rated 91 percent and above.
“The certification and rating of content bodes well for the African Continental Free Trade Area which is opening up opportunities and possibilities beyond borders,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce, Sekai Nzenza.
BSSC Executive Director Sebastian Zuze said the certification will also target emerging businesses in the SME sector who may also want to benefit from the ratings to boost their brands when they compete on the Africa Safari.
“The MOU is an agreement whereby BSSC will be responsible for training, auditing and offering certification services to companies that fall under the Buy Zimbabwe portfolio.
“BSSC will ensure that they are certified to the relevant standards, some of which include the ISO Quality Management Systems, the ISO Environmental Management Systems, the ISO Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, Risk Management and various other product specific standards,” he said.