In a bid to ensure that global halal standards are met and maintained, the Halal Centre of Excellence South Africa (HCESA) is seeking to integrate a successful halal training for consumers and Halal Certifying Bodies (HCB) alike. On Saturday, HCESA hosted a virtual celebration of its one year anniversary through a Zoom meeting with various HCB’s, including SANHA, MJCHT, NIHT, ICSA and SHURA, as well as the Western Cape Government and Department of Economic Development and Tourism, WESGRO and other local companies. Lead partner and current Islamic Banking and Finance Lecturer at the International Peace College of South Africa, Shaykh Ziyaat Isaacs, explained that the objective is to include all certifying bodies in its digitization process inspired by Malaysia’s biggest Halal Certifier.
“Halal Centre of Excellence South Africa is not another certifying body and is instead a collaborative initiative between Serunai Commerce which is a tech-based company and I Consult Africa a local sharia advisory firm, which basically develops technology to enhance and improve systems to deploy transparency and cooperation in the halaal ecosystem,” he said.
As the demand for halal grows, the project aims to regulate and monitor halal compliance across the globe. After a partnership was forged at Africa Halal Week 2019, plans to extend the initiative in South Africa and further into Africa fell flat due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Isaacs explained that while the Compliance Officer Programmes has existed in Muslim majority countries such as Malaysia where the demand is high since 2007, demand in Muslim minority countries such as South Africa has increased. The digitization, he explained, is expected to create unity among certifiers.
One of the major challenges, Isaacs said, is the uniformity of rules and regulations within the industry and lack of consumer knowledge about how the process is applied. He noted that the technology strives to “standardize the perception of the way things are done in the industry and for this not to be construed.”
“We are of the opinion that through this technology we will be able not to change halal certifying body standards, but to get uniformity where the consumers and all stake holders in the halal industry are not confused as to how to apply these regulations.”
While Covid-19 stunted the progression of the project in South Africa, the Halal Compliance Officer Programme came to fruition this weekend and strives to bridge the information gap between certifiers and consumers.
“What the officer will enable is to address issues surrounding transparency, cross-contamination and fraud within the industry, leading toward a huge distrust among the public. The officer will be an internal function on the company that will be of assistance to certification bodies. (They) will enhance the company’s halal awareness and enable the entire process including certification and manufacturing etc,” said Isaacs.
While the technology is currently being used in Malaysia, they are in talks with at least two Western cape halal certifying bodies in order to get the ball rolling. Isaacs said that since inception, all certifying bodies in Cape Town, Western Cape as well as Johannesburg and Durban were open to engaging over their challenges and concerns.
Other services that the move seeks to make available include:
• Professional Halal Industry Training at every level of Management and stakeholder in the Halal supply chain;
• Certified Halal Plant Management and skills development;
• Human Capital development
• and capacity building through technological advances.
Although the Compliance Officer Programme was already launched, it is expected to be deployed and distributed in the first quarter of 2021.