Co-ops given a fighting chance

The Co-operative Policy is presently being reviewed to accommodate new developments in the dynamic co-operative sector. This week, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa signed an MoU with the Kenyan government on the development of Cooperatives, in Windhoek.
The areas of cooperation are for capacity building of cooperatives, exchange of technical expertise, technical assistance, and promoting of income generating activities.
A working team will oversee the implementation of the agreed Annual Action Plan that provides for a national Co-operative Policy, provides for the formation, registration and winding-up of co-operatives, and to deal with other matters associated with cooperatives. The Co-operative Policy is currently being reviewed with the objective of accommodating new developments in the dynamic co-operative sector.
The cooperative movement in Kenya is one of the key drivers of the economy, contributing approximately 43% to the Gross Domestic Product and employing more than 300,000 people.
Like in Namibia, the scope of co-operatives in Kenya cover a wide range of sectors, such as agriculture, banking, credit, agro-processing, storage, marketing, fishing, housing and transport.
Namibia and Kenya recognize the immense contributions that cooperatives can make, towards economic and social development. This is demonstrated by the fact that the two countries have policies and legal frameworks in place that support and facilitate the development and operation of cooperatives.
“I am informed that there are currently 142 co-operatives registered with the office of the Registrar of Cooperatives; with a total membership of approximately 28, 000 members,” Mutorwa said, adding that, Kenya has the strongest cooperative movement in Africa, consisting of 15, 000 registered cooperatives and a total membership of at least 12 million members. Locally the establishment of cooperatives, as a tool for economic development, is provided for under co-operatives as one of the forms of ownership, on which the economy is based.
Local co-operatives are involved in the various economic sectors, covering economic activities such as sewing and tailoring, livestock marketing, savings and credit, small scale mining, marketing of semi-precious stones, arts and crafts, mahangu (pearl millet) marketing, seed multiplication, provision of agricultural inputs such as seeds, ploughing services and first level oil processing from indigenous fruits, such as marula kernels, melon seeds and ximenia.
Mutorwa urged the re-shuffled co-operative board early last year not be discouraged with the slow pace of registered entities as the cooperative society of Kenya was established in 1908, and picked up momentum in the 1960s and 1970s. “I am further informed that the first post-independence Cooperative Development Policy of Kenya was formulated in 1970 with the main objective of consolidating the activities of cooperatives,” the minister said.
It is well known that cooperatives in Kenya, particularly those in the financial sector, are more developed than in Namibia and contribute significantly to the economy of that country.
Equally, Namibia has also made significant strides in the development of cooperatives in some sectors. This difference in the development of our cooperatives, presents an opportunity for our two countries to draw benefits from each other by sharing experiences and best practices in this sector.
Mutorwa said that Namibia is committed to the full practical implementation of all aspects of the MoU and it is thus my and our Government’s hope that after signing this Memorandum of Understanding the said Working Team will be formed urgently, in order to practically implement the identified activities, for the mutual benefit of the people, in our two respective Countries and Nations.

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