Retail sector charter enters next round

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Windhoek

Stakeholders in the retail sector recently held a consultative meeting to further thrash out ideas on the proposed Namibia Retail Sector Charter, which is set to be implemented in September.

Speaking at the meeting the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Immanuel Ngatjizekoto, described the retail charter as a project of national importance. Urging participants to work together in a spirt of goodwill and dialogue, he highlighted the developmental objectives the charter aims to achieve in terms of economic inclusivity, job creation and poverty eradication.

The chairpersons of the three task teams – fast moving consumer goods, building materials/hardware and clothing/apparel – presented an overview of their activities since September 2014. Participants discussed the status of the proposed charter with emphasis on its aim, mechanics, stakeholders, project milestones and transformational principles.

Challenges highlighted were definitional issues attributed to retailers’ different business models, which relate to product and supplier categories. Other significant issues raised were the non-participation of leading retailers, limited local decision-making capacity due to foreign ownership and control of retailers, and the fact that participation is voluntary.

The meeting resolved to ensure relevance of the charter across the different retail models, to further intensify engagement with non-participants through awareness creation and communication, to agree on targets, and to source specialised expertise in developing the measuring tool.

Organised by the Namibia Trade Forum (NTF) as part of its role as lead partner in the development of the charter, the conference was attended by an estimated 70 representatives comprising retailers, distributors, logistics companies, regulators, and wholesale and retail unions. The next meeting is scheduled for August 18 and 19 in Windhoek.

Registered as a Section 21 Company, the Namibia Trade Forum is an agency of the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development. Its main objective is to institutionalise public/private dialogue and cooperation with emphasis on international and domestic trade as well as investment policies as stipulated by the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4).

The Namibia Retail Sector Charter lays out principles and targets to facilitate greater access to the retail market for local beneficiaries. The charter further seeks to facilitate the creation of a suitable climate for local contribution to the value chain as well as to facilitate job creation amongst other growth targets. This intervention forms part of the ‘Growth at Home’ strategy’s key priority area, ‘Securing market access at home and abroad’. The charter is set to be implemented during the third quarter of 2015.

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