Written by Prof Pierre Pienaar FAIP, CPP, Education Director

It was wonderful for the World Packaging Organisation (WPO) and the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) to be in Nairobi, Kenya in August 2017 to offer Residential Packaging Technology (RPT) to the Institute of Packaging Professionals Kenya (IoPPK) for 3 days. Always an exciting and exhilarating experience being in Africa. Whilst Kenya is world renowned for their animals Prof Pierre Pienaar and Kishan Singh (Institute of Packaging South Africa) were in the country to impart knowledge and ensure those attending the course became more informed about the science and technology of packaging and its important role in society.

The 52 students were predominantly from Kenya, but also from Nigeria and Tanzania. More than ever before it was evident that there is a need as well as a desire for some, across our globe to learn more in the science and technology of packaging. The students really absorbed all the knowledge that was imparted by both lead lecturers and the guest local lectures.

We were reminded that the WPO, who have the knowledge and experience, have an obligation to help those in developing countries. In this event the academic standard was exceptionally high and all students absorbed information like a sponge and could not get enough.

The students were keen and eager to learn which was evident in their continual interaction with the lecturers during the training. This RPT program covered a broad spectrum of packaging technology relating to the industries in Kenya, it drove the students which was evident in their questions, how one can improve packaging, reduce costs, understand what their packaging counterparts were doing in developed countries and how they can improve packaging of to reduce wastage.

The organisational skills of our host, Mr Joseph Nyongesa from IoPPK, was quite exceptional. Nothing was an issue and all aspects ran exceptionally smoothly. We were impressed by his quick perception of our requirements to be able to deliver a sound training program.

There is a significant amount of informal packaging happening in East Africa as well as throughout the African continent. This is where vendors buy in bulk and repack into small pack sizes for ‘open market’ sales. It is therefore in this area of packaging that requires support, advice and help. The mere fact that a RPT was run in Kenya is a start in helping in packaging training in general. Lots more education is required at all levels of the packaging spectrum, i.e. formal and informal sector.

Similar training programs undertaken by the WPO Educational portfolio are planned for the rest of this year. The countries scheduled include, Vietnam, China, Italy and Iran. The aim is to get more people in developing countries educated in Packaging Technology. The road is long but most rewarding.