ApiTrade Africa was launched officially by His Excellency, President Kaguta Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on 24 October 2008. This was during the 1st ApiExpo Africa, taking place in Hotel Africana. At this event, 30 companies and producer co-operatives exhibited, 250 delegates participated, and over 400 visitors came to make business contacts or buy products from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, UK and Zambia.
ApiExpo Africa 2008 was organised by ApiTrade Africa with two objectives:
1. To showcase Africas apiculture industry by creating awareness of market and investment opportunities, and to demonstrate the relationships between beekeeping and other industries.
2. To provide a platform to launch ApiTrade Africa.
ApiTrade Africa is a non-profit making, member-based company with a Secretariat in Kampala. The formation of ApiTrade Africa first began in 2005 when, following Bees for Developments African Honey Trade Workshop, the Apimondia Standing Commission Beekeeping for Rural Development passed two Resolutions in favour of creating a platform for promoting African bee products on the world market.
The need for a regional ApiExpo
Market access discussions within the ApiTrade Africa network brought out the need for increased profiling of African bee products and service providers. Our focus is shifting slowly from attempting to compete within the export markets in Europe and other developed markets, that are often restrictive, to satisfying the domestic and regional markets. These markets remain undersupplied despite increased demand from processors, and growing consumer awareness. During Apimondia 2007, it became clear that a similar event in Africa, focusing on regional trade, would be not only beneficial in creating knowledge and disseminating information amongst stakeholders, but also foster links between value chain actors and stimulate regional investment.
ApiExpo Africa brought together African stakeholders to share knowledge on market access, service provision and best practices. Service providers showcased their services, the private sector displayed its products, R&D organisations and Government institutions discussed, and producer organisations gained knowledge of market requirements. Market information was shared, and linkages were created between producers, the private sector and service providers.
Wide publicity for the event contributed to raising the profile of bee products in the region. This is made evident by the increased contacts people are making with ApiTrade Africa. Immediately after the ApiExpo, the number of enquiries rose sharply. For example, an organisation in Germany called the Secretariat to make contact with producer organisations that could supply fair trade certified honeys. A buyer in Burundi emailed the Secretariat to get in touch with an export-ready company to supply honey to a US buyer. A trader in Canada contacted the Secretariat concerning the distribution of equipment to Africa.
Following ApiExpo Africa 2008, recommendations point towards strengthening the ApiTrade Africa Secretariat to promote marketing of bee products, investment related initiatives and knowledge sharing in the African honey industry. Partner organisations behind these initiatives include Bees for Development; National Agricultural Advisory Services, Uganda; SNV-Netherlands Development Organisation; and Uganda Export Promotion Board.
Bosco Okello, Uganda Export Promotion Board
(First published in BfD Journal 89, December 2008)