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Series of Webinars on Cooperative Law in Africa, November 2, 2021, at 14h Kenya time

  • 28/10/2021
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Introduction

IUS COOPERATIVUM Association, ICA-Africa and the ICA Cooperative Law Committee (CLC) are collaborating to organize a series of five free webinars on cooperative laws in Africa, starting from the first edition on November 2, 2021, at 14h Kenya time, led by the Ius Cooperativum, and organized with the aim to improve the access to knowledge, information, research and practice in cooperative law, which may help in the development of cooperatives in Africa.

Context and concept note

Although the idea and practice of organizing shared interests cooperatively, is not new for the oldest continent, the modern idea of cooperation was implemented in Africa by colonial regimes that governed several countries from the 19th century. It can be argued that this external implementation has had its negative effects in maximising the potential of cooperation and in optimizing human enterprise for mutual benefit and concern for the community. Cooperatives are a distinct business model based on an international understanding among stakeholders on the key distinguishing aspects such as democratic management, member participation, and member-education. The mixed success achieved by cooperatives in Africa in maximising the potential of communities to democratically manage businesses contrasts with the success of cooperatives in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe, Japan and the United States of America. The contrast warrants an inquiry about the reasons behind the failures, and investigation on whether there are disabling provisions in cooperative law which impede the development of cooperatives in the continent. This exercise is particularly crucial as Africa implements its collective vision of Agenda 2063 and attempts to maximise the potential of her children, particularly the youth. In addition, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which may be the largest free trade area in the world with an potential impact on 1.2 billion individuals and effect worth 2.5 billion USD, has made the inquiry urgent. Cooperatives must not, and must not be compelled to lag behind due to legal and regulatory challenges, and should be able to assert their enterprise aspect as much as their associative character to benefit from economic development through rule of law, including benefitting from the principle of equal treatment and where warranted, treatment in accordance with the distinct identity of cooperatives.

This series is being brought about amid a growing ecosystem which is currently building comparable knowledge and improving the practice of cooperative law, as well as the findings of the 2021 report of the UN Secretary General on Cooperatives in Social Development which cites the exemplory work of cooperatives in responding to the ongoing pandemic, as well as makes specific reference to the ICA Statement on Cooperative Identity while making legal arguments on the need to safeguard cooperative values and principles, and cooperatives' distinct identity.

Among its various recommendations, the UN report of the Secretary General on Cooperatives in Social Development urges national Governments to improve legislative and regulatory frameworks, in alignment with the draft guidelines of the UN (2001) aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of cooperatives, to support cooperatives through national constitutions, where not yet done, by providing for their equal treatment in policies and laws, and by passing, where applicable and feasible, a general law applying to all categories of cooperatives in an effort to avoid fragmentation and increase efficiency, in congruence with a single policy document on the promotion of cooperatives, with provisions for secondary and tertiary cooperatives.

Cooperative law in Africa, just like its cooperative movement, is diverse and this diversity has its source and origin in the traditions practiced in the countries as well as in the legal traditions inherited by countries during the colonization of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Questions that face different stakeholders and particularly cooperators and law makers are:

  • Whether the practice and implementation of the universal cooperative values and principles would foster the development of true cooperatives and the build a brighter movement?
  • Whether regional approaches to law-making would significantly impact the creation of a much more positive story for cooperatives in Africa?
  • Whether it is time for Africa to consider cooperative groups while also strengthening strategically, vertical, and horizontal inter-cooperation?

Challenges faced by cooperatives in law are:

  1. Outdated laws
  2. Harmonization of laws or Unification of laws, or not?
  3. Excessive control of the state and overregulation
  4. Erosion of autonomy and independence as a result of interference by political parties
  5. Lack of good governance; dormant or passive membership; artificial restriction on the development of cooperatives
  6. Lack of scientific collaboration in cooperative law involving cooperative lawyers from across Africa.

Discussions

The aim of the series of discussions which will be mostly organized on the internet to ensure maximum participation of cooperators and experts around the world, are to:

  • Share knowledge on cooperatives law - knowledge and practice in Africa,
  • Facilitate scientific collaboration among lawyers and experts to discuss the principles of African cooperative law,
  • Assist the ongoing effort of the ICA in determining model provisions for a cooperative law for countries of the African Union
  • Develop a robust network of cooperative lawyers in Africa to complement the ICA Africa Cooperative Law Committee
  • To promote the general knowledge on laws on cooperatives in Africa developed by the ICA Africa under the ICA-EU Partnership on Cooperatives in Development, where legal frameworks of 17 countries in Africa were analyzed by national experts. https://coops4dev.coop/en/c4d-africa

Dates, Time, and Registration

Ius Cooperativum will organize the first two webinars in the series, and ICA Africa and ICA CLC will support the initiative.

The first webinar is themed on “Introduction to cooperative law in Africa” and will be held on Tuesday, November 02 between 14h-16h (Kenya Time) or 12h-14h (CET) via the ZOOM.

Moderator

  • Dr. Rachel-Claire OKANI, Civil Servant, Teacher and human rights activist

Welcome addresses by guests (up to 10 mins each)

  • Prof. David HIEZ, President Ius Cooperativum; University of Luxembourg
  • Dr. Sifa CHIYOGE, Regional Director, ICA Africa
  • Prof. Hagen HENRŸ, Chairperson, ICA Cooperative Law Committee, University of Helsinki

Topic and Speakers of the event (up to 20 mins each)

  1. History of Cooperative Law: From the colonial period up to now - Dr Willy TADJUDJE, University of Luxembourg
  2. L'enseignement coopératif en Afrique - Dr Gabriel GBEDJISSOKPA, Director of Programmes at Pan African Cooperative Conference, Yaoundé, Cameroon
  3. ICA-CLC Policy Paper on African Cooperative Law submitted to PAP - Mr. Alphonce MBUYA, Moshi University
  4. Overview of the Legal Framework Analysis in Africa under the Coops4dev programme, Mr. Melvin KHABENJE, Research Officer, ICA-Africa

Open floor and Q/A (20 mins)

Closing and announcement of the date for next webinar

Register in advance for this meeting

Nov 2, 2021 02:00 PM Nairobi

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwsfumgqDMiEtVwZFkY-09JnqgMF32D_v0P

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Meeting room will be opened 5 minutes prior to the launching of the session

Contact: Willy Tadjudje for Ius Cooperativum at willytadj@gmail.com and Melvin KHABENJE, ICA Africa at melvin@icaafrica.coop

French-English simultaneous Interpretation available

Ius Cooperativum, ICA-Africa and ICA-CLC express their sincere gratitude for your participation and trust.

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