Prof. Dr. Emmanuel Kamdem, Secretary General of the Pan African Institute for Development (PAID), former official of the International Labour Organization
Established in March 1920, the ILO’s Cooperatives Unit marks its Centenary in 2020. On this occasion, the ILO COOP 100 Interview series features past and present ILO colleagues and key partners who were closely engaged in the ILO's work on cooperatives and the wider social and solidarity economy (SSE). The interviews reflect on their experience and contributions in the past and shares their thoughts on the future of cooperatives and the SSE in a changing world of work.
How did your interest in cooperatives first start?
I am a Cameroonian coming from a region with traditional tontines and modern cooperative movement in agriculture. As a farmer my father was a cooperator in both the traditional and modern cooperative systems.
Could you share with us some of the highlights of your work with the ILO on cooperatives?
On ILO’s Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No. 193), I am the one who wrote the White report, prepared the questionnaire, collected the answers from ILO member Countries and treated them. Like other colleagues in ILO COOP, I was an Expert in the International Labour Conference that adopted Recommendation 193 in 2002.
Concerning the OHADA uniform act on cooperative societies, I am the initiator of the letter sent to OHADA through the Pan African Cooperative Conference to draw its attention to the fact that the uniform act on business law did not include cooperative societies and even abolished them by saying that no other form of society will be accepted in the 17 OHADA member States. I then used ILO COOP expertise and COOPREFORM project to conduct the formulation process up to final adoption in 2010 in Lomé, Togo.
What do you think is the value added of the ILO on promoting and advancing cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy organizations?
I think that the value added of the ILO in its work on promoting and advancing cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy organizations is through the adoption and the implementation of international standards as well as their dissemination. Development cooperation projects aiming at integrating cooperative theory and practices in the school and university curriculum would be also an important value of the ILO.
What do you think is the role of cooperatives and wider social and solidarity economy in responding to the challenges around the changing world of work, including the unfolding crises around the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think that the role of cooperatives and wider social and solidarity economy in responding to the various challenges, including the unfolding crises around the COVID 19 pandemic, is on the one hand through cooperatives health clinics and health insurance and on another hand the way they connect with the local communities as stipulated in the seventh cooperative principle in relation to its concern with the community.
What do you think is needed for governments to recognize the role that cooperatives and wider social and solidarity economy can play in responding to crises and rebuilding economies?
I think that governments first need capacity building of their civil servants in charge of cooperatives and secondly the formulation, adoption and implementation of cooperative policies in line with the ILO Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No. 193). The formulation, adoption and implementation should follow a concerted approach involving all stakeholders at local, regional and national level. It was demonstrated that cooperatives were more resilient during the former crisis than the other business forms. The implementation of the OHADA uniform act on cooperative societies should be encouraged.