The 17th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition (AFCC&E) concluded on a high note in Kigali, Rwanda. With exceptional attendances and world class facilities, the conference continued to gather good reviews, worldwide.
The conference theme, “Specialty Coffees from the Heart of Africa”, highlighted the expected benefits from producing coffees of higher quality. Producing Specialty coffee is one of the means through which African Countries can guarantee improved revenues from produce as consumers on the international market are willing to pay higher prices for higher quality coffee.

In his speech, the Executive Director of ICO, Mr. Jose Sette, noted that the theme of the conference “Specialty coffees from the Heart of Africa” feeds the ongoing debates on unlocking the potential of coffee sector in Africa in order to increase its contribution to a sustainable and inclusive development of the region and meet the objectives of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

De-commoditizing coffee and penetrating into the specialty coffee market is one of the key strategies to increase the value of the African coffee. Specialty coffee, according to Jose Sette is a coffee that has received additional care, whether in selection of the best beans from areas that can produce exceptional quality, or in the way it is brewed and served, in the way it is grown or whether it is associated with complementary flavors to create a variation on a theme. All these factors are involved in the specialty coffee market that is currently booming in many developed markets.

About 1,200 participants from 32 countries are took part in the event, and they include coffee producers, exporters, roasters, policy makers, and buyers from around Africa, the America’s, Europe, among other parts of the world.
Mr. Sette noted that the annual coffee produced in the world is estimated at 162 million bags of 60 kilograms each. Africa accounts for around 12 percent of that global production.

About five million bags of coffee grown in Africa or nearly half of the total produce is specialty coffee mainly from Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda.

“As we all know, the history of coffee is one of the price boom and burst in which the former almost invariably ushers in the latter. The current market situation is no exception; coffee prices have been experiencing a downward trend over the last two and a half years”. Sette said.

With the volatility of world coffee prices, another key strategy to achieve a sustainable coffee sector in Africa is the development of domestic and regional consumption of coffee. Expanding domestic consumption is crucial for promoting the inclusive value chain transformation of the coffee industry in Africa, as well as contributing to a global equilibrium between supply and demand. Domestic consumption provides a valuable market outlet, increases producer awareness of consumer demands, strengthens the national private sector and offers vital experience for the eventual export of value-added products.

According to National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), the price of specialty coffee is higher than that of basic coffee. On average, the former is sold at between $4 and $5 against the latter’s $2 or $3 a kilogram.
Rwanda, which produce small quantities of coffee compared to big producers like Brazil and Columbia, can generate more revenues by offering quality coffee. Rwanda exported 23,000 tons of coffee in the financial year 2017/2018, generating $67 million, and it is targeting to generate $75 million through exporting 24,500 tons of coffee in the current fiscal year.

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