Co-operators and high-level politicians met in Botswana on 13-14 October for the annual Africa Cooperative Ministerial Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Contribution of Co-operatives to African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want’.
Participants were divided in seven commissions to look at the seven aspirations of the Agenda 2063. To achieve a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, they suggested increasing awareness of the co-operative model and incorporating it into the school curriculum. Co-operatives should also create strong synergies with other core stakeholders, they argued.
Another recommendation was to ensure good governance, democracy respect for human rights and the rule of law through co-operatives, particularly in sectors like housing, health, saving and credit and information and communication technology. They highlighted that co-operatives need supportive co-operative laws and policies to provide a regulatory framework within which they can operate.
Co-operatives are also contributing to the achievement of peace and security by creating employment for the unemployed, especially the youth who in many cases are perpetrators of crime in communities. Co-operatives promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, said the delegates.
In terms of achieving greater participation of women and youth, they suggested that co-operatives should be encouraged to establish a 30% gender rule. Co-operative leaders can also mentor and provide opportunities for young people, argued the participants.
Participants at the conference have also elected the Honourable Vincent T Seretse Minister of Trade and Industry as the conference’s chairperson for the next three years, who will be taking over from Honourable Francois Kanimba.
Also speaking at the conference, President of Alliance Africa, Stanley Muchiri, urged members of the Alliance to align their strategies to the Africa Cooperative Development Strategy.
Regional Director for Alliance Africa, Dr Chiyoge Sifa talked about the key activities planned by the organisation, including establishing a co-operative start-up support system, assisting in the establishment of a Co-operative World Leader educational programme as well as an online Co-operative University.
Co-operatives from across Africa were also represented at the Social and Solidarity Economy conference in Morocco, on 20-21 November. The event featured a presentation from Chiyoge Sifa, director of the International Co-operative Alliance for Africa, who looked at development and coherence within the co-operative sector. Other speakers also analysed the state of the social and solidarity economy in Morocco, the Mediterranean Region and Africa. Another topic that was discussed was the existing legal framework in the different regions as well as the governance structures of different enterprises, including co-operatives. Delegates have also explored the contribution of research in the definition of social and solidarity economy standards.
Photo: Chiyoge Sifa speaking at the Africa Cooperative Ministerial Conference.