The Namibia Trade Forum (NTF) has reached an advanced stage in the implementation of the country’s own barcode centre which will enable manufacturers of products to be registered and have access to shelf-space within a short period.
Robert Simon, a trade analyst at the NTF, said last week, that the country will have its own barcode centre soon, and not rely on foreign registrars.
“The NTF is in the process of setting up Namibia’s own barcode centre that will enable creators of products to be registered and issued with internationally recognised and accredited barcodes within a short period”, he said.
Manufacturers and innovators have been to going to South Africa to register a barcode for their products before the NTF stepped in as from May this year, acting as a middleman between Namibian manufactures and South Africa to facilitate barcode issuance.
A barcode is a unique sequence of numbers which identifies and tracks goods or products. It simplifies the supply chain process from production, ordering, and delivery to selling the product.
According to the NTF, a barcode is the minimum entry requirement for a product to have access to shelf-space in wholesale and retail.
However, for the NTF to successfully apply and launch the country Global Standard One (GS1), it needs 200 signatures from businesses in the country, and so far, they are 60 signatures short of the target.
“In order to have a successful application, we need 200 signatures of businesses supporting the application,” stated Simon.
He said so far, the forum had secured 140 signatures, and is still receiving signature forms almost on a weekly basis. They, thus, plan to hand in their application at the end of September 2019, and expect the outcome before June 2020.
Simon explained that once the application is approved, the Namibia barcode centre can start issuing barcodes which will enable products to be retail-ready.
“A barcode is simply one of many standard requirements in order to list a product in retail shelve space. Other standard requirements include labelling and product laboratory dossiers,” he said.
He added that easy access to barcode services will allow business owners, especially SMEs, to focus more on meeting other listing criteria.
The Namibia Manufacturers Association’s chief executive officer, Ronnie Varkevisser agreed that the issuing of barcodes to innovators timeously as opposed to travelling to South Africa and waiting is a good step in fostering value-addition and creativity in the country.
However, more needs to be done to grow the sector in terms of policies and execution rate of directives and initiatives that are given by the government.
Varkevisser pointed out that for the sector to be stimulated, “faster execution of current policies, directives and initiatives (implemented by the government), i.e. Growth-at-Home, Retail Charter and the review of the Procurement Act, need to be done”.
He said at the moment, the manufacturing sector is limping and faces a flood of impediments. As a result, its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product has been stunted.
According to the Bank of Namibia’s July 2019 economic outlook, the manufacturing sector is one of only a few sectors to grow this year. This sector is projected to improve, mainly supported by the increased production of cement.
Growth in the manufacturing sector is projected to improve to 3,4% in 2019 before moderating to 2,6% in 2020, from 0,2% in 2018.
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