ILO COOP participates in the ICA Africa Regional Conference on 'Fostering Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area through Cooperatives’

ILO COOP participated in the ICA Africa Regional Conference on 'Fostering Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) through Cooperatives' that was held online on the 15th October, 2020 along with government officials, cooperative leaders, partners and other stakeholders.

News | 16 October 2020
Simel Esim, Head, Cooperatives Unit, ILO
As outlined in the concept note, the regional conference aimed to identify potential synergies, issues, opportunities and benefits for African cooperatives, emanating from the implementation of AfCFTA. In her presentation on the interface between AfCFTA and cooperatives, Dr. Sifa Chiyoge, the Regional Director of ICA Africa asked how African cooperatives can leverage and engage in intra-African trade.

Speakers shared experiences from institutions in Africa and other regions that can enable cooperatives and other stakeholders in the region engage effectively in advocacy and policy dialogue mechanisms to support the negotiations and subsequent implementation of AfCFTA. They also reflected on ways African cooperative organization can engage in cooperative to cooperative trade.

In her presentation, ILO COOP Manager Ms Simel Esim, highlighted findings from an ILO assessment on the potential of cooperatives in the SADC region to engage in imports and exports, with a focus on the agricultural sector. She noted that trade is not only a business issue but deeply connected to cooperative development. She underlined how cooperative development programmes can be key to unlocking the potential of cooperatives toward becoming better integrated into global supply chains.

Ms Esim noted that cooperative to cooperative trade can be a socially innovative model toward more inclusive, transparent and sustainable global supply chains, aligned with SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production. She pointed out that during COVID-19 pandemic, shortening supply chains by establishing direct purchasing lines between producer and consumer cooperatives, can help reduce the risk of inflated food prices and improve food security of local communities.

For more information on ILO’s work on cooperatives, global supply chains and trade, see here.