Under the theme “Cooperatives for Development” the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)’s Global Conference opened in Kigali, Rwanda this week. Held from October 14-17, 2019, this biannual conference hosts more than 1,000 people from around the world who are meeting to discuss global best practices for cooperatives. Happening on the heels of the 2019 Cooperative IMPACT Conference, this event provides an opportunity to explore the global power in our collective purpose.
Representing cooperatives in the U.S., leadership from NCBA CLUSA are participating as speakers and panelists in numerous sessions throughout the conference. On Tuesday, October 15, NCBA CLUSA hosted a breakfast for the members of the U.S. delegation and facilitated discussions on issues and opportunities that impact the U.S. cooperative community.
NCBA CLUSA’s media partner, theNews.coop, is on the ground providing comprehensive coverage of this event. Read the article below for more on the opening of the conference. Follow @NCBACLUSA and @coopnews on Twitter for live updates.
The Global Conference of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), Cooperatives for Development, is now underway in Kigali, Rwanda. Over the next three days, 1,000 representatives from 94 countries—including a U.S. delegation from NCBA CLUSA—will explore how the movement can help to drive sustainable development.
Welcoming delegates to the heart of Africa, ICA President Ariel Guarco said, “The participation of each and every one of you is fundamental and I am convinced that this meeting will be an excellent opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas which will no doubt contribute to advancing our cooperative movement.”
ICA-Africa Regional Director, Chiyoge Sifa, added, “This is the second time in the ICA’s 124-year history that we are back in Africa. We had the privilege of welcoming the cooperative family to South Africa in 2013 and today we are very pleased to have you in the heart of Africa—Rwanda.”
Thacienne Mutezinka, president of the National Cooperative Confederation of Rwanda, highlighted the role played by co-ops in the social and economic transformation of the country. And Japheth Magomere, president of the Africa Region of the International Cooperative Alliance, quoted figures from an International Labour Organization (ILO) study indicating that 7 percent of the African population belongs to a cooperative.
“We have seen genuine and economically viable African cooperatives which create economic opportunities, provide a basic level of social protection, and provide members with voice and representation,” he said.
Delegates also heard from Prof Anastase Shyaka, Rwanda’s Minister for Local Government, who talked about the role of cooperatives in rebuilding the nation in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. The cooperative movement is the biggest employer and wealth generator in Rwanda. “The ICA is a very important partner for the world transformation and particularly, the rural development,” he said.
He explained how the country is among the three fastest-growing economies in Africa, second for ease of doing business, first for network readiness and fourth in terms of gender equality at a global level.
The minister said he believes there is a direct correlation between gender promotion and cooperative growth.
“The successful implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on our continent and beyond will be closely linked to how we make our cooperative movement more successful,” he said, adding that this was also key to creating more opportunities for young people, women and those living in rural areas.
Looking ahead to next steps for the movement, Guarco said that ICA members would be asked to approve a new strategy at the organization’s General Assembly, as the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade comes to an end in 2020. The General Assembly takes place in Kigali on Thursday, immediately following the conference.