General Key Issues

Regional workshop in Africa shares insight on using electronic tools

A two-day Regional Technical Workshop for National Codex Contact Points has concluded in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, bringing together participants from close to 25 African countries, with the majority working within the areas of food safety and international standards. The workshop supported skills and knowledge development to increase practical capacity and ability of staff working in national Codex systems and to facilitate their successful operation in the Codex international standard-setting environment. This is through the use of electronic tools, such as the new Codex website; the Online Registration System (ORS); the Online Commenting System (OCS); and the Digital platform for Electronic Working Groups.

The activities are envisaged to support the Codex Alimentarius Commission contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2): End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, as well as SDGs 3, 12 and 17. The training will also support the Codex Strategic Plan (2014-19) and, in particular, Strategic goal 3: Facilitate the effective participation of all Codex Members.

The workshops aim to have a direct impact on the operational capacity of countries to work within the standard-setting process. Enhanced familiarity and confidence with how systems operate can translate directly into building stronger national Codex systems – the first step in achieving effective participation in Codex.

It was important to enhance the work of our Codex Contact Points in terms of commenting. They have also learned various ways to consolidate information, actually get information from the working groups, harmonizing the positions within their countries and they can also share information in the region

Kimutai Maritim of Kenya, the Codex Coordinating Committee for Africa, said.

The meeting was opened by Andrew Tuimur, Principal Secretary State Department for Livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Kenya. In his remarks, Tuimur expressed his appreciation for the Codex Contact Points, saying that they play a pivotal role towards international standards which contribute towards facilitating trade. He went on to cite an example of the livestock sector in Kenya which contributes close to 15 percent of the country’s GDP, but is currently partly crippled by Foot and Mouth Disease, which has stalled exportation to the European Union.
Key opening remarks were also given by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Managing Director, Charles Ongwae and Kepha Ombacho, Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health. KEBS is the Codex Contact Point in the country, while the Ministry of Health hosts the Food Safety Unit under the Division of Environmental Health/Public Health.

Several participants expressed their appreciation for the workshop. Shalini Neeliah of Mauritius said:

For me as a Codex Contact Point, attending such an event provided me with the opportunity to meet other Codex Contact Points, share experiences with them, but especially the online tools – but certainly to master the online tools. If you are not going to use these tools, you are going to be at a loss.

Andrew Lartey of Ghana explained, highlighting why the workshop was important to him:

It is very important to me as a Codex Contact Point Manager, you know I have been in Codex for just one year and about 10 months, so I don’t have any experience in these online systems