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ICA-Africa to hold midterm review of 13th Africa Ministerial Conference in Lesotho

KAMPALA, January 24, 2024 - The International Cooperative Alliance- Africa [ICA-Africa] in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Business Development of Lesotho is organising the Midterm Review of the 13th Africa Ministerial Cooperative Conference which will be held from May 19-22, 2024, in Maseru, Lesotho.

The event expected to attract hundreds of cooperators from Africa and the rest of the world, will be held under the theme: Leveraging Cooperatives for Transitioning African Economies: A holistic approach to climate change mitigation & adaptation, peace & security and economic stability.

According to the organisers, this forum seeks to create a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovative solutions to address Africa's socio-economic and environmental challenges through the cooperative movement.

Background to the event

According to the Concept Note of the upcoming event, Africa is currently undergoing substantial transformations in its development, necessitating sustainable strategies for a shift towards resilient economies. However, progress has often been impeded by the challenges of climate change, economic instability, and conflicts. The International Monetary Fund [IMF] blog of 2023 highlights the severe threats posed by climate change, particularly affecting fragile states in Africa with floods, droughts, storms, and other climate-related shocks. These crises hinder the continent's growth and demand a holistic approach to sustainable development across multiple dimensions.

The World Bank reported that in 2023, approximately 462 million people in the region were still living in extreme poverty, and high levels of debt have become a major challenge. The recent poly-crisis, encompassing climate-related issues, economic inequality, conflicts, and political polarization, has exacerbated the debt surge. Despite an expected slight acceleration in economic growth to around 3.5 percent according to the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects report [WESP] 20243, concerns about debt sustainability, fiscal pressures, and climate change remain significant uncertainties requiring urgent solutions.

The Concept Note continues, “The recent COP 28 in Dubai, concluding the first global stock take under the Paris Agreement, revealed slow progress in all areas of climate action. This slow pace includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening resilience to climate change, providing financial and technological support to fragile nations, and fostering inclusive economic development globally.”

“The African Development Bank emphasises its role in lifting transition countries out of fragility. The private sector not only contributes to economic benefits such as growth, higher incomes, and employment but also offers hope through increased economic opportunities. Amid challenging environments, the private sector can act as a stabiliser and a catalyst for exiting fragile conditions. Cooperatives are private sector organisations who are member owned and controlled coming together to meet a common need. This can be either economic, social, cultural, environmental or all the above.”

The Concept Note argues that cooperatives operate in every sector of the economy, and they are in both urban and rural settings making them equal and significant players in economic development. “It is against this backdrop, this conference aims to continue discussions on how cooperatives can be leveraged to facilitate the transition of African economies, specifically in the realms of climate change mitigation, adaptation, peace & security, and economic stability. As people-centred organisations, cooperatives present a unique opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive future for the continent.”

Organisers say the overarching objective of this conference is to convene government ministers and officials, cooperative leaders, and other stakeholders to deliberate on the optimal leveraging of cooperatives in the transitional efforts of African economies. “This forum seeks to establish a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovative solutions to address Africa's socio-economic and environmental challenges through the cooperative movement.”

The conference is anticipated to help in identification of ways in which cooperatives can be leveraged for transitioning African economies, specifically in the areas of climate change mitigation, adaptation, peace and security, and economic stability; sharing and recommending innovative and inclusive cooperative practices/best cases relevant to the transitioning of African economies; and development of partnerships and collaborations to support cooperatives in addressing transitioning issues, including climate change mitigation & adaptation, peace, security, and economic stability.

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