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The Ethiopian Freight Forwarders and Shipping Agents Association (EFFSAA) in collaboration with the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) has provided trainers of training (TOT) for 41 logistics sector actors and academicians for two weeks. The training is considered to be a major step to improve the logistics sector. Capital interviewed Salahdin Khalifa, Board Chairperson of EFFSAA, about the training and its benefit to the country.
Capital: There were a lot of things that were not clear during the signing event. There was a similar training before as well so can you explain more about that?
Salahdin Khalifa: When the FIATA was established it was mainly for countries in Europe to provide them with support and streamline laws to make sure trade across borders goes smoothly.
To further strengthen professional skills in the sector in those countries, it also provided trainings through the Advisory Board Vocational Training.
When FIATA expanded its presence globally, it was divided into four regions; Americas, Africa the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific. Regarding providing trainings in Africa; because it would have been unaffordable for the trainers to come and provide the service, the FIATA Foundation stated that it would sponsor 90 percent of the cost of the trainings. This was around the year 2008, 2009. The call for our association to participate was also received in 2009.
After that, there was a TOT program that FIATA provided by covering 90 percent of the cost so to be part of this opportunity, we contacted all our members and 47 individuals from different institutions such as the Customs and Revenue Authority, Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise, Maritime Affairs Authority, Transport Authority; they all took the training.
Most of them where already on the job and were unable to provide training. Out of those that took the training around 35 passed the examination that was given after the training and for the last 6 to 7 years we didn’t focus on other trainings.
Now we know we need to focus on capacity building through education and training, the country demands it. If we can give our regulators new skills, it will be an advantage for the sector and it will give more credit to our association.
So we approached FIATA to do a training again. The courses need to be revalidated every four years and it had already been six years for us and we wanted to do the trainings again. We were told that we needed to do the TOT program again and that we needed to cover this cost on our own, and that is what we did. We gathered sponsors and so on; we put in around 1.5 million birr, participants also contributed with a moderate fee.
It is a very important opportunity as those that have taken the training can now train others and get financial reward through that. We have already started giving out trainings at our office; there are four modules to go through for the FIATA diploma. There are already over 56 individuals registered to take the course, 20 of them have already started the class.
Because we cannot do all of this from our office, we have been looking at other stakeholders and with that we have approached the Aviation Academy and they have given us a trainer and there are also opportunities to use their facilities to carry out the courses, same thing with other institutions such as Addis Ababa University.
We do make those that take the course a commitment form that holds them to provide at least 120 hours worth of training every year in the course specialty of their choice; introduction to freight forwarding, insurance, ocean transport, rail transport and so on.
Capital: After they pass the exam, until they get their certificate there is a time gap, so how do you deal with that.
Salahdin: The training that is currently been given is by trainers that passed through the course and received certificates. We don’t expect the new trainers to give the course before they get their certificates. They can start giving training after one month. We will know their exam results after a week and there is a fee of over 5, 000 birr that we have to pay for the certification and validation. So if 40 of the students pass, we have to pay around 200,000 birr for the certification, which is our commitment as an association.
Capital: I understand that there are practitioners and also academicians in the group. How many of those are academicians?
Salahdin: What we have learned from the last TOT program is that we mostly invited association members and most of them were not academicians. This time around we have focused more on academicians to fill at least 85 percent of the space.
Capital: How long does the diploma take and how many people are you planning on training?
Salahdin: The more trainers you have the more people you can train. Our first plan is to update our course materials. Every four years there needs to be a revalidation for the trainer.
We can do the TOT program over and over again but there are issues with finances, which holds us back. We would have liked to do it every three or four years, but we have to be able to afford it so we might need to ask continuous support from sponsors.
In October, all the materials that have been organized will be submitted to FIATA. There will also be a conference in Malaysia, FIATA’s international congress will be held, during that time and there will be a working group meeting where some trainers from here will attend and answer questions on the materials they have prepared so they need to be able to give those answers.
If trainers get their certificate and validation, it means they can go to Europe and teach because it is an internationally recognized certificate.
Capital: What about taking on students? That will happen after October?
Salahdin: The students we will take on after October will be given the courses by the new trainers. We cannot take on a lot of students because we only have six validated trainers. Right now there are around 56 students registered.
Capital: How long does the course take?
Salahdin: Each course has its own specific time. The shortest time for a course is 10 hours, introduction to freight forwarding is 30 hours, the multimodal operating course takes 50 hours.
Right now we teach four hours daily. We could have done it full time but there needs to be a full time teacher for that. It is also difficult for the students to continuously take the course as they have their own jobs. Even if they do have time, they would have to wait for some time until the course they want is being given. That is why it is important to have different institutions offering the courses. If that is the case, they can get their diploma in less than a year.
What we hope is for first degree holders, before they are absorbed into the work scene, to come to us and take the courses because they have more time.
Capital: What would you says is the economic benefit of having trained individuals and how will it help modernize logistics in the country?
Salahdin: When we say the logistics sector is slow in this country is mainly due to humanpower. Human capacity and human skill is the only thing that can grow the sector. We need knowledge, not only local knowledge but also international. We need to have international standards, there are trainings being given but the question is the standards we need to look at. Those that do get world standard training will have an immense contribution to the logistics sector. They can also provide insights that would shape policy making.