One of the four regions of ICA—one with great promise—is the African continent. Since 1984 ICA has been convening a triennial Co-operative Ministerial Conference, bringing together ministers responsible for co-operative development. At the last Ministerial Conference, in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009, the ministers agreed to a number of policy actions that would drive African socio and economic recovery. In anticipation of the next Ministerial Conference, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda in 2012, and which will be the 10th Conference, the ministers met in Windhoek, Namibia this week to review progress on implementing those policy actions.
The ministers will issue their own press statement on their deliberations and discussions in Windhoek. It is not for me to co-opt that. I can share, however, my enthusiasm for the immeasurable value of these Conferences for the growth of the co-operative movement. Setting ministerial level priorities for co-operative growth is a significant achievement in its own right. Coming together regularly to evaluate progress and share best thinking is a still greater achievement.
Just prior to that meeting, the ICA Africa Regional Board met and we had the opportunity to interview three final candidates for the Africa Regional Director. I am excited by the caliber of the finalists and by what that says about the promising future for ICA and the co-operative movement in Africa. We expect to make an announcement very shortly on the new RD.
We are very clear on some of the key elements of a successful vision in Africa: an appropriate policy and legal framework; an integrated co-operative financial system; the involvement of youth and women; and African regional collaboration.
It was noted by one of the African ministers at the Ministerial Conference that co-operatives resonate with “The African Way.” As we build during the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012 for a Co-operative Decade, I have great confidence that the end of that decade will see in Africa some of the greatest strides the worldwide movement makes.