NAMIBIA – Namibian local products that are currently on retailers’ shelves are identified as South African as they carry the country’s barcode as Namibia lacks the institutional framework to issue its own.

A barcode has been identified as one of the minimum entry barriers of locally manufactured products in local retailers.

The codes are used in retail stores at the purchase process, in warehouses to keep track of stock and on invoices for bookkeeping purposes.

Due to this, the Namibian Trade Forum (NTF) has gathered 242 signatures from local manufacturers who want to have their own serial or code number.

The collective application was submitted to the Geneva-based Global Standard One (GS1) in March this year and will be reviewed in November, reports The Namibian.

Hilia Haileka, administrator of the Namibia Barcode Centre (NAMBC), revealed that it took two years and three months to collect enough signatures for the application as required by the standards organisation.

“With the support of Namibian businesses, we managed to fulfil all the requirements in March 2020,” she said.

If the application succeeds, Namibia would be assigned a serial number, “thus establishing GS1 Namibia.”

The barcodes would also identify Namibian products globally.

“GS1 Namibia is not only a means by which barriers to the retail market can be removed, but it is also the institution that will finally allow our products to be identified internationally as Namibian,” she said.

While the country is waiting for approval of the application, NAMBC has entered into an agreement with GS1 South Africa for Namibian products to register under their barcode.

For those adding value in the country, the barcode centre would facilitate engagements with GS1 South Africa on behalf of local firms.

Barcodes would then be applied for at the Namibia Barcode Centre, which is part of the NTF.

GS1-South Africa has set up a dedicated desk to fast-track the processing of applications submitted through the Namibia Barcode Centre.

The cost of one South African barcode is currently N$259 (US$17.39). Three varieties of one product would for example require three different barcodes, which would cost N$777 (US$52.18).

To apply for a barcode, a business needs to be registered. Haileka said after application it takes two days to receive a unique code.

Early this month, the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) indicated they have registered 11 691 businesses between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

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