Robust reforms have revitalized co-operative sector in Kenya- President Kenyatta

NAIROBI-Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has attributed the rapid growth of the cooperative sector in his country to the policy reforms the government has implemented since 2013.

The President noted that the reforms have helped the sector to play its rightful role towards the achievement of the Big Four Agenda pillars of manufacturing, food security and affordable housing.

“In manufacturing, my Administration has prioritised reforms for the revitalisation of various sub-sectors where cooperatives are involved in areas such as agro-processing and value addition in coffee, cotton and dairy to name but a few,” the President said.

Cooperators listening to President Kenyatta at the event to mark the International Day of Cooperatives in Nairobi on Saturday (Internet photo)

Kenyatta spoke on Saturday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre where he led the country in celebrating the 100th International Co-operatives Day [Ushirika Day].

He cited the revival of the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union as one of fruits of the reforms that have directly benefitted coffee farmers.

“As part of this revitalisation programme, my administration incorporated the new Kenya Planters’ Cooperative Union Ltd [New KPCU] in 2019 after liquidation of the old KPCU, which was bedevilled by a myriad of challenges,” President Kenyatta said.

The Head of State said through the reforms the New KPCU was able to establish a Cherry Revolving Fund of Kshs 3 billion [about Ushs 95.5bln], institute a farm inputs subsidy programme of Kshs 1bn [about Ushs 31.8bln]as well as refurbish coffee drying tables.

He added that the new entity has also been able to provide sustainable solutions to thousands of coffee farmers through milling and marketing services, pointing out that the New KPCU has provided milling and marketing services to 236 cooperative societies and 92 coffee estates.

“The benefits of the New KPCU are already noticeable; the New KPCU charges farmers USD 40 per ton of milled coffee as compared to USD 65 per ton, charged for the same services by private millers. So far, the New KPCU has milled 1,828 tons of coffee,” President Kenyatta said.

The President said the reforms also helped to stabilize the dairy sub-sector through the modernization and expansion of the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries factories across the country, leading to steady growth in the number of dairy co-operatives.

“This initiative has had a positive social-economic impact in the dairy sector through the stabilization of milk prices at farmer and consumer levels, due to efficient processing and packaging capabilities. Moreover, with its increased processing capacity, the New KCC has been enabled to take up excess milk from farmers, thereby averting losses at farm level and providing a much-needed ready market for their produce,” he said.

On rice farming, President Kenyatta said the Government-led reforms saw the revival of the Kenya National Trading Corporation enabled the sector to increase production and ensured farmers have access to markets for their produce at competitive prices.

Other areas that benefitted from the co-operative sector reforms include the cotton industry where the Government is implementing recommendations of a task force geared towards revitalizing old and obsolete cotton cooperative ginneries as well as building new ones.

On Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisation [SACCOs], Kenyatta said the implementation of the Sacco Societies [Non-Deposit Taking Sacco Business] Regulations 2020 that commenced in January 2021 have helped to double the number of SACCOs under prudential regulation of Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority [SASRA] to 360.

“I note with appreciation that over the period 2014 to 2021, the SACCO industry has registered remarkable growth. In terms of membership, the number has risen from 3 million in 2014 to 5.5mln in 2021.

Kenyatta said apart from contributing to housing, education and many other things, cooperatives can be major players in the development of the country. “I do believe cooperatives can be major players in the development of our social infrastructure as well. There is no reason why cooperatives savings cannot be used to build roads,” he said, urging cooperatives to lend to the government.

The appetite to borrow from cooperatives comes after Kenya cancelled the sale of Shs 115bln [$982 million] Eurobond and will instead borrow from commercial banks after the Russia-Ukraine war caused yields to surge on international markets, local media reported.

Finance Minister Ukur Yatani told the Daily Nation and Business Daily newspapers that the bond was no longer feasible, blaming the conflict in Ukraine for pushing up interest rates and causing yields on Kenya’s previous Eurobond to double to 12 percent.

Cooperators matching to mark International Day of Cooperatives [Ushirika Day] in Nairobi on Saturday (Internet photo).

“Last year we borrowed at six per cent and now it stands over 12 per cent. This is no longer feasible. That’s why we’re still exploring options to look at a number of banks that can advance us the money at a cheaper rate,” Yatani told the Daily Nation.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said SACCO movement in Kenya are the most vibrant in the world, holding 32 percent of the country’s savings and with an asset base of US$ 2.3 trn.

The cooperative Movement in Kenya has an asset base of Ksh 1.3 trn [Ushs 41.392 trn], Kshs 885bln [28.2trn] in savings and deposits and Ksh 860bln [Ushs 27.4trn]loan portifolio.

Meanwhile Kenyatta on Saturday said the country now has the necessary legal framework to facilitate cooperatives to grow, adding that it has reduced the theft of members’ savings by top managers.

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Emyooga SACCOs to turn into cooperatives

KABALE– At least 25 Emyooga Savings and Credit Cooperatives [SACCOs] in Kigezi Sub-region are set to be transformed into cooperatives, having grown tremendously since their establishment about two years ago.

The Emyooga SACCOs, mainly agricultural in nature, have persisted under government funding through the Microfinance Support Centre [MSC], and able to accumulate at least Shs 11.3 billion since 2020.

The 25 are part of the total 270 Emyooga SACCOs in the region, although the majority of them have had funds recovery issues and management challenges.

The SACCOs whose members are majorly Women groups, market vendors, smallholder farmers, carpenters and saloon operators, and small-scale entrepreneurs among others have a membership total of about 6,934.

The Regional Manager for MSC for Kigezi region, Boaz Tuhumwire told this reporter in an interview that the region received at least Shs 6.4bln in 2020, to benefit all SACCOs, which has grown to Shs 11.3bln in 2022.

“Recovery has not been easy due to the Covid- 19 effects, but by now it should have been higher than what we are reporting,” he said.

He said other SACCOs would be given continuous assistance in terms of capacity building, monitoring, and recovery to ensure their existence is not threatened.

He also added that the share capital of the region is expected to rise to at least Shs 14bln by December 2022, with at least 74,234 jobs generated directly and indirectly

The SACCOs that have been promoted to permanent Cooperatives were taken through financial and leadership training, an activity that would be phased into parts to ensure proficiency and effective service.

The SACCOs that were elevated include:

Kabale municipality Boda Boda Operators

Kabale Municipality Women Entrepreneurs

Kinkizi East Women Entrepreneurs

Kinkizi East Produce Dealers

Kinkizi West Produce Dealers

Kinkizi West Carpenters

Ndorwa West Market Vendors

Kabale Municipality Market Vendors

Kabale Municipality Carpenters

Rubanda West Women Entrepreneurs

Bufumbira East Produce Dealers

Ndorwa East Women Entrepreneurs

Kisoro Municipality Women Entrepreneurs

Kisoro Municipality Produce Dealers

Bufumbira South Women Entrepreneurs

Bufumbira South Performing Artists

Bufumbira A North Carpenters

Bukimbiri Produce Dealers

Rubanda Pest Produce Dealers

Rubanda East Produce Dealers

Bufumbira Dast produce dealers

Rujumbura Produce Dealers

Rubabo Produce Dealers

Rubabo Boda Boda Operators

Rukungiri Municipality Women Entrepreneurs

Rukiga Women Entrepreneurs.

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Museveni commends cooperatives, talks of re-establishing Cooperative Bank

SHEEMA – President Yoweri Museveni has appreciated the role of cooperatives in the development of Uganda especially in working to move farmers from subsistence to the money economy through commercialisation of agriculture as well as saving, as he also talked of reopening the Cooperative Bank.

Museveni said this on Saturday while the cooperative societies and unions in Uganda joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives.

The International Day of Cooperatives was celebrated under the theme “Cooperatives Build a Better World”.

In a speech read for him by the minister for cooperatives Francis Mwebesa, Museveni noted the cooperatives have recorded milestones in the economic transformation of the country.

Cooperative members during the celebrations to mark the International Day of Cooperatives in Sheema (Photo by Joushua Nhamya.

“I congratulate you upon this occasion when you’ve joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 20th UN day of cooperatives and the 100th International Day of Cooperatives. I have come to learn that this day is intended to increase awareness and appreciate the role played by cooperatives in human development and share economic transformation,” Museveni said.

He also said that the activities undertaken during the cooperative week such as tree planting, market cleanliness, and blood donation among others were promoting the fundamental principles of cooperation and inducing the identity and value of cooperatives in a society.

“This year’s theme cooperatives building a better world is an endorsement that cooperatives are a key to building an inclusive economy for all.”

“Involvement of cooperatives is, therefore, a clear testimony that the Government of Uganda believes cooperatives can make a significant contribution to the development of the economy. This year’s celebrations are therefore a watershed event of the strong statement of recognition,” he added.

Museveni said, “It is in 1844 a group of 28 artisans working in the cotton mills in the town of Rochdale, in the north of England established the first modern co-operative business, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society to provide an affordable alternative to poor quality and alliterated food and provisions using any surplus to benefit the community”

“Since then the cooperative movement has flourished extending across the globe incapacitating all sectors of the economy.”

“I am now happy to note that Uganda’s political social-economic development has leveraged on the cooperatives’ establishment and continues to be in extractable tied with the growth of cooperative sector despite the challenges faced by the sector in the mid-1990s.”

Government, therefore, recognises the need for the development of cooperatives as outlined in the national development plan. This is by empowering our population with ownership and the voice of economic initiatives that shape their lives, Museveni said.

The president said the government has also created enabling environment that enhances a strong sustainable cooperative sector.

“It is important to note that the NRM government has been committed to revising the cooperative sector over the past three decades with recognition of the role of cooperatives spread in economic development.”

He added that the organised nature of cooperatives has been useful right in the dissemination of other wider community-based government initiatives right from Operation of Wealth Creation [OWC].

He said cooperatives have helped in community mobilisation, sensitisation, training, and advisory services at the grass-root level.

Museveni said cooperatives are expected to play a critical role in the implementation of the Parish Development Model [PDM], a new mechanism for improving the incomes and welfare of Ugandans at the household level.

“This year’s cooperative day is occurring at a turning point in our countries’ development agenda the theme indeed suitable fits into a real economic intervention our government has just introduced through the parish development model.”

PDM is a multi-sector strategy that fits into NDP III involving seven pillars with a goal of creating socioeconomic transformation by transforming 39 percent of Uganda’s households that are stuck in the subsistence economy into the money economy says the president

Through the distinctive focus on values, cooperatives have indeed proven themselves as resilient and viable model that can foster the people to thrive says the president

“Even during the difficult times like during Covid-19, still cooperatives played a pivot role in making government’s household programmes a success.”

Museveni pledged support to revive the Cooperative Bank which was closed by the Bank of Uganda on May 19, 1999, due to mismanagement and corruption among the top managers.

He said when the National Resistance Movement [NRM] captured power in 1986 there were only about 5000 primary society cooperatives but that these have grown to about 40,000, without including original SACCOs, PDM SACCOs and Emyooga SACCOs.

Guests taking a look at the finished products processed by different cooperatives in the country as they marked the International Day of Cooperatives in Sheema on Saturday (Photo by Joshua Nahamya).

It is in this field that government is feeling the need to re-establish the Uganda cooperative bank which will help to fill the existing agricultural financing gap to promote financial inclusiveness”

Museveni also said he is aware of the war losses that cooperatives suffered during the political insurgency, which he regarded as one of the biggest setbacks of the cooperative movement that should be dealt with by compensating cooperatives.

“Government is committed to fully compensate all cooperatives that lost their property due to insurgency.”

“As I conclude I invite you all to join me in applauding the significant contribution and positive impact the cooperatives in Uganda and across to grow. I wish the cooperative movement every success,” Museveni said.

Robert Kankiriho, Chairperson of Muhame Financial Services Cooperative Society Limited requested the government to inject the PDM funds into already existing SACCOs rather than creating new ones.

“We request that you consider allowing the SCCOs to monitor and supervise the Emyooga and the Parish Development model Funds. The money you want to take to the rural community, if you can agree and give it to SACCOs, you will see great wonders on the ground because we reach the people better than the commercial banks and the recovery will not be a problem,” Kankiriho said.

State minister for cooperatives Fredrick Ngobi Gume appealed to co-operators to start mobilising funds in preparation for the reopening of Cooperative Bank.

“We have talked about the cooperative bank every year. By the time we meet next year, we should have mentioned that we have now started. The fact that government support may delay, if you agree as co-operators and move the resources you have in your respective financial institutions you can begin as the government also sees how to support you but don’t wait to start,” Gume said.

He also advised the co-operators to stay united, avoid conflicts and add value to their products in order to move forward.

Maj Gen Sam Kavuma, chairperson of Wazalendo SACCO said he has no objection to revising the cooperative Bank in Uganda.

“I have no objection with that as long as a drawing conclusion is agreed among ourselves to see how we can incorporate it’s just a mutual agreement among cooperatives and SACCOs to rebirth our Uganda cooperative Bank.

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Cooperative official urges govt of Nigeria on collaboration

ABUJA– As the world marks 2022 International Cooperative Day today [Saturday], the President of Cooperative Federation of Nigeria [CFN] and International Cooperative Alliance-Africa, Chief Oriyomi Ayeola has called on Federal and state governments in Nigeria to support efforts by the cooperative movement to revamp and boost economies, among other functions.

International Cooperative Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in July by Global Cooperative Movement since 1923 and the United Nations since 1995. As a global movement, this year’s celebration will be the 100th International Cooperative Day. Similarly, this year marks a decade since the United Nations named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives in recognition of the cooperative business model despite the failing economy worldwide.

Oriyomi’s call is contained in a special statement issued to commemorate the day and address members of cooperative societies in Nigeria and Africa at large.

Describing the theme for this year’s celebration ‘Coops Build a Better World’ as apt and timely, considering the pervasive downturn in all spheres and sectors in the world, he said the theme would help to address the challenges.

He said, “The theme of this year’s celebration is Coops Build a Better World. This is in appreciation of cooperatives’ dedication and adherence to standards, moral and ethical values; which are entrenched in the cooperative principles that build people’s social network and generate healthy communities and national peace.

“According to the Cooperative Monitor published by the International Cooperative Alliance [ICA], cooperative members across the world represent 12 per cent of humanity. This is a pointer to the fact that many people across the world are embracing the Cooperative Business Model. In Nigeria, we have well over 40 million cooperators spread in all the sectors of the Nigerian economy providing succour to members and non-members alike.

“Cooperatives are businesses driven by values and not by remuneration; therefore, members through over three million cooperatives across the globe act together to build a better world by helping members achieve individual goals through collective contributions.”

He lamented that in spite of cooperative’s contribution to a better world, cooperatives in Nigeria are faced with many challenges, among them is lack of adequate attention by the government, inadequate and obsolete regulations, inadequate monitoring and control, threatening inflation, general insecurity, Covid-19 pandemic, which devastating effect is still being felt.

While he appreciated federal and state governments, for their contributions over the years, he called for adequate attention by the governments.

He listed areas cooperative contribute to revamping the economy to include food security through agriculture.

“Nigeria, as the largest producer of cassava in the world, it’s able to achieve the feat due to the active participation of cooperative farmers in cassava production,” he said.

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With a billion members worldwide, cooperatives are a force to reckon with

KAMPALA-The cooperative movement is made up of over three million cooperatives with approximately one billion members worldwide from all sectors and regions, according to the International Cooperative Alliance [ICA].

As cooperatives are diverse and their activities have multiple dimensions, they are contributing to almost all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A study conducted by the ICA entitled How Cooperatives Drive the Change? – A SDG Framework for Cooperatives [to be published in 2022], will explain why and how cooperatives can become unique and leading actors in achieving the SDGs.

Cooperatives’ way of working based on the values and principles make cooperative-specific contributions to SDGs, in addition to their contributions through main economic activities like; agriculture, fishery, finance, insurance, health, housing, consumption, industry and services), by:

Providing income-generation opportunities and decent work; advancing gender equality and youth; providing education and training; protecting environment and climate; enhancing coop-to-coop cooperation; promoting community development.

International Year of Cooperatives : a milestone for legal reforms

The UN International Year of Cooperatives [UN IYC] was adopted by the UN GA Resolution 64/136 of 18 December 2009. This was a time which was at the heels of the 2008 global recession, and the 2009 response by the ILO which propagated the resilience of cooperative financial institutions during the financial crisis. The IYC encouraged policymakers to consider revamping the legal environment for the development of cooperatives, as was envisioned by the 2001 draft UN Guidelines (A/56/73) and as elaborated by the 2002 Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation (No. 193) of the ILO which brought to its text, the all components of the ICA Statement on the Cooperative Identity – definition (para 2), values and principles (para 3).

While the period after 1995 [adoption of the Identity Statement] and particularly after 2002 (adoption of the ILO R. 193) saw marked increase in the number of countries deliberating legal reform. In some other countries, such as the United States, attempts such as the 2007 Uniform Limited Cooperative Associations Act, were being made to modernise the cooperative legislation in a way to help cooperatives raise external capital.

Numerous countries worldwide had revisited their cooperative laws in the last decade with the aim to support cooperatives. Some examples are Sri Lanka which started work on its first-ever National Policy on cooperatives in 2012, Mongolia which established a consultative process to reform its cooperative law in 2013, Vietnam which adopted a law facilitating further the creation of secondary cooperatives, the Specialised Farmers’ Cooperative Law of China of 2007, the State of Palestine which ushered in a new law on cooperatives in 2017, among many others. A common feature in these reforms is the reference to the universal values and principles of cooperatives in the legal text. Other notable examples of legal reform coinciding with and after the proclamation of the UN IYC are the following:

The 97th Constitutional Amendment Act
[2011] of India, which gave all citizens a basic-civil-fundamental right to form cooperatives, a right which is akin to the people’s right to form unions and associations as guaranteed by Articles 23 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 22 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, 1966.

The Framework Act on Cooperatives, 2012 was adopted in the Republic of Korea, with the aim to create a supportive environment for the development of cooperatives in all economic sectors and services, especially those not covered by the then existing legal framework which regulated only eight “traditional” sectors, like agriculture, fisheries, consumer etc. Around 12000 new cooperatives in different areas have been created in the country after the Framework Act was passed. Examples of these cooperatives are taxi drivers’ cooperative, language interpreters/translators’ cooperative, freelancers’ cooperatives etc.

A historic #CoopsDay

Marked by cooperatives worldwide since 1923 and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the centenary of the ICA in 1995, the International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of July.

This year’s celebration will be the 100th International Cooperative Day, the 28th International Day of Cooperatives recognized by the United Nations and will mark a decade from the International Year of Cooperatives in 2012.

The aim of #CoopsDay is to increase awareness of cooperatives worldwide and promote the movement’s ideas of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace. Since 1995, the ICA and the United Nations through Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) have jointly set the theme for the celebration of #CoopsDay.

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Kikuube district councilor who attacked minister Byamukama jailed

KIKUUBE– Nestole Tumwesigye, the Kikuube district councilor for Kyangwali Sub-county, who attacked the state Minister for Works, Fred Byamukama, has been charged with two counts of; threatening violence and inciting violence.

He was charged and remanded to Kiryateete Prisons for two weeks by Grade One Magistrate Esther Asiime.

Prosecution led Julius Oncheng, told court that on June 29, 2022, the councilor threatened to harm or kill minister Byamukama who was on official duty as he and other officials met leaders going to implement the Parish Development Model [PDM] in Kikuube district.

Prosecution further added that on the same day at Rujunju village at Kikuube district headquarters in Kiziranfumbi town council, councilor Tumwesigye incited the councilors and the parish chiefs against Minister Byamukama.

However, Tumwesigye pleaded not guilty to the charges and through his lawyer, Rimon Kasija Amooti of Kabega, Bogezi & Bukenya Advocates, applied for court bail but he was denied the same.

Lawyer Kaija told court that his client suffers from hypertension, adding that he needed to go home and take the medicine which was not in prison.

But prosecution argued that court could not grant the convicted councilor bail on grounds that the medical forms indicate he stopped taking the said medicine in 2020.

Prosecution further averred that the suspect was also out on court bail after allegedly assaulting his fellow councilor who they did not mention, adding that this indicated that Tumwesigye was not ready to reform, and that the latest offence against the minister confirmed his unchecked violent behaviour

After submissions from both sides, Magistrate Asiimwe denied the suspect bail and sent him to prison until July 14, 2022.

Nestole Tumwesigye was arrested last Wednesday after he attacked minister Byamukama who was in Kikuube district to sensitise leaders and technical staff about the PDM.

Tumwesigye tried to violently oppose the minister’s order to arrest parish chiefs, who had been accused of demanding ‘registration’ money from the beneficiaries of PDM.

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Over 300 Emyooga SACCOs in Masaka to get extra Shs 20mln each

MASAKA- At least 300 best-performing Emyooga Saccos in the Greater Masaka region have been selected to benefit from the additional seed capital of Shs 20 million each from the government.

This was revealed by Masaka regional manager for Microfinance Support Centre [MSC], Samson Magala saying ”the best performing Emyooga SACCOs in terms of savings, loan re-payment and good leadership will receive an additional seed capital of Shs 20m each.”

Among the best performing Emyooga SACCOs include, Kimanya-Kabonera elected leaders in Masaka city, produce dealers, taxi operators, market vendors, restaurant owners, mechanics, boda-boda riders, veterans, and women entrepreneurs.

The greater Masaka region with 22 constituencies has 391 SACCOs with 2090 associations in Masaka city and nine districts of Lwengo, Kalangala, Kalungu, Sembabule, Bukomansimbi, Kyotera, Rakai, Lyantonde and Masaka rural district.

Magala said the region received the total seed capital of Shs 12.2bln and was disbursed to 391 SACCOs). He said since the Emyooga programme was launched in the region, Shs 5.6bln in savings has been realised from the SACCOs.

He said about 61252 males, 5572 females, 3850 youths and 633 persons with disabilities [PWDs] have benefited from the Emyooga programme in the region.

The chairperson of Kimanya-Kabonera elected leaders, Anthony Ssembuusi said they started with a membership of only 90 members and it has risen to 441 members. He said they received the seed capital of Shs 50mln and currently, they have realised Shs 256mln.

Bukomansimbi district commercial officer, Patrick Balungi said some of the successful SACCOs in the district are taxi operators, elected leaders, fishermen, and veterans. He attributed the success of these SACCOs to teamwork and commitment of SACCO leaders and continuous supervision by the office of the district commercial officer.

He said Bukomansimbi received the seed capital of about Shs 1.1bln which was disbursed to 36 SACCOs in the two constituencies of Bukomansimbi South and Bukomansimbi North. About Shs 400mln in savings has been realised. A total of 960mln loans was disbursed to 34 SACCOs and Shs 70mln paid back.

However, he said there is still some money lying idle in the bank account after one of the categories for PWDs submitted their documents very late and their certificate is not yet out.

He also noted that some SACCOs are finding it hard to recover the money from members. He added many others are facing the challenge of poor saving culture and delay in paying back the money. He attributed this to members who save purposely for loans only.

He said that some SACCOs lack leadership skills and that some members have a mindset that the Emyooga money was given to them as a reward for supporting President Museveni during the campaigns.

Masaka regional coordinator of the Emyooga programme in Masaka region, Baker Nambaale said they have intensified continuous training of SACCO leaders on financial literacy and mindset change to boost the saving culture and encourage them to establish viable income-generating enterprises.

”We have provided technical assistance towards the SACCOs under this initiative to ensure that there is total sustainability,” he said.

MSC in conjunction with Uganda Micro-finance Regulatory Authority [UMRA] has started training leaders of 25 progressive Emyooga SACCOs in the Greater Masaka region until they are licensed.

During the training in Masaka City, UMRA Compliance Officer, Benon Mugambe said they have Selected 25 successful SACCOs and started sensitise and equipping their leaders with technical assistance towards acquiring permanent registration, and consequently, support them to get licensed.

He said the Emyooga SACCOs are registered by the Registrar of Cooperatives under section 25 part 55A [3] of the Cooperative Societies [Amendment] Act 2020, on probation for a period of two years, after which they are expected to be permanently registered, depending on their performance.

He advised SACCO leaders to expedite the formation of their action plans for subsequent activities to ensure that SACCOs get registered and as well as getting licensed.

Emyooga is a presidential cluster initiative on wealth and job creation, which was introduced in 2019. It is under the Tier 4 Microfinance Institutions and Moneylenders Act, 2016 as well as the Cooperative Societies [Amendment] Act, 2020.

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Co-operators challenged on mind-set change, saving culture

MBARARA– As Uganda joins the rest of the countries to celebrate the International Day of Cooperative, State Minister for Cooperatives- Fredrick Ngobi Gume has encouraged co-operators in the country to save if they are to increase their capital base.

The minister made the call on Friday during a National Cooperative Symposium co-hosted by Ankole Coffee producers Union [ACPCU] and Muhame Financial Services Cooperative Society Limited at Lake View Hotel in Mbarara City.

The symposium attracted institutions like; the Uhuru Institute for Social Development [TUI], Uganda Cooperative Alliance [UCA], as well as cooperative unions as like Bugisu Co-operative Union.

Powerful SACCOs like Wazalendo SACCO of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF], and representatives of commercial banks like Stanbic Bank Uganda gathered to forge a way forward for the cooperative movement in Uganda.

While delivering his speech, minister Ngobi argued that savings will enable cooperatives to compete favourably with commercial banks in offering low interest rates to the members.

“Some people, because of poverty, when they get Shs 1,000 they have to spend it all, thinking they will get another one. This must change. Let’s tell our people that it is important to save,” he said, adding, “Look at Wazelendo SACCO. Do you know how many billions they have?”

“Also take Mwalimu SACCO for example. If the teachers in this country decide to save Shs 10,000 every term, you would see how powerful they become.”

The minister urged SACCOs to give loans at a low interest rate such that they compete with our commercial banks that offer their loans at higher interest rates. “If they [commercial banks] give their loan at an interest rate of 9 percent per annum, for us [SACCOs] we can give ours at 6 percent and this is the liberalisation that we want.”

The minister said for the last six years, the cooperative sector has increased from 6,500-35,000 cooperatives in Uganda covering about 12 million people.

However, he challenged the co-operators to reduce the internal disputes in order to consistently grow their financial institutions.

“Remove conflicts from cooperatives. Co-operators are democratic, member-owned and decisions are taken by members. If you are given an opportunity to manage, don’t start misbehaving. Cooperatives don’t have a yardstick in religion, tribe and sex [gender],” the minister said.

He also appealed to parliamentarians to lead the campaign of supporting the cooperative movement in Uganda.

“Some parliamentarians are now at the helm of leading the unions and cooperatives so we expect a lot of support from them.”

On his part Hon Francis Mwebesa, Minister for Cooperatives said the empowered cooperative movement in Uganda will address some of the challenges like the low milk prices in the cattle corridor.

“People are clamouring for the comeback of cooperatives and we need to get formalisation to sort the problem of milk prices,” Mwebesa said.

Ivan Asiimwe, General Secretary of Uganda Cooperative Alliance 9UCA) challenged the government to upgrade and support the cooperative colleges in Uganda, adding that countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Canada and Brazil have had cooperatives support their economies.

“Go to Kenya. 65 percent of Kenyans derive their livelihoods from cooperatives but what is the percentage in Uganda here? Where is the mismatch? You go to Canada over 18 mln people are members of cooperatives and employ 165000 of people look at the cooperative movement in Kenya,” he said.

Uganda join the rest of the world on July 2, 2022, at Sheema Stadium, Kabwohe Municipality in Sheema district, to celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives. A decade on from the UN International Year of Cooperatives, which showcased the unique contribution of cooperatives to making the world a better place.

This year’s Coops’ Day slogan—“Cooperatives Build a Better World”— echoes the theme of the International Year.

In Uganda, the Day is co-hosted by ACPCU and Muhame Financial Services Cooperative Society Limited, according to the registrar of cooperatives.

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Masindi residents decry poor extension services

MASINDI– Residents of Masindi district are dissatisfied with the inadequate extension services rendered by different officers of the district local government.

The residents expressed their concerns on Tuesday during a stakeholders’ meeting meant to discuss findings of a survey on sexual gender-based violence [SGBV] by Forum for Women in Democracy [FOWODE] at Country Inn in Masindi town.

Presenting the findings of the study conducted from different sub-counties in the district, FOWODE’s Elly Kirya explained that most residents complained about the inadequate extension services being rendered to the farmers in the district.

“Extension workers are invisible in villages. They are always in offices. The residents are finding it hard to get their services. Some of them are at the sub-county level but they’re not known in the villages,” Kirya explained.

Sunday Fred Kapinpin, a resident of Kibaaali village in Miirya Sub-county said that district extension workers have not helped to improve productivity in agriculture.

“Extension workers are being paid using taxpayers’ money but no service delivered. Our farms have suffered from the armyworm infestation but we didn’t see them [extesnsion workers] coming to us to give us advice on how to handle it. They were given new motorcycles but no visibility. When do they work?” he asked.

He added that they want their superiors at the district level to prevail over them such that they’re able to work.

“As men, we are supposed to work hard and provide for our families but this can be achieved if we are getting adequate agriculture advisory services. When there’s high productivity there will be no gender-based violence in families,” said Kapinpin.

Kirya said that the farmers also decried the high prices of agro-in-puts products like herbicides, fertilizers, and others like pesticides.

“They want the government to reduce taxes on these products such that they’re able to buy them.”

Last week, Masindi sugarcane farmers while meeting the state minister for Trade Industry and Cooperatives [MTIC] David Bahati requested government to intervene and reduce taxes on agro-in-put products.

“We want the government to handle the issue of fake agro-inputs and the high cost of these products. As farmers, we are choking on fake agro-inputs, and yet we are spending a lot of money on them,” they said, urging the government to subsidize the prices of such chemicals.

Commenting on the issue of extension workers, the principal assistant secretary to the chief administrative officer [CAO]acknowledged the issues raised by the residents and promised to provide a solution.

He added that they have few extension workers compared to the number of sub-counties and the town councils.

“We had nine sub-counties but now we received nine new administrative units. These people cannot be everywhere. They may not be available at the time you want them. Some of them are working in three sub-counties,” he explained.

He however noted that extension services are demand-driven, advising that whenever they need them they should always call the officials.

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US$550,000 project to create 200,000 jobs annually in Rwanda

KIGALI- The Government of Rwanda, in partnership with the African Development Bank’s Fund for African Private Sector Assistance, has launched a two-year project to boost industrial capacity in the country and create jobs.

The Enhancing the Quality of Industrial Policy in Rwanda Project (EQuIP] is worth US$550,000. It will build the capacity of staff under the Ministry of Trade and Industry and its agencies, the Rwanda Development Board and the private sector to design, implement and evaluate industrial policies independently or with minimal reliance on external expertise.

The project aligns with Rwanda’s ambition to achieve upper-middle-income status by 2035. The underlying economic goals of the industrial policy include creating over 200,000 jobs annually to promote development, positioning Rwanda as a globally competitive knowledge-based economy, promoting industrialization and shifting the export base to high-value goods and services.

Commenting on the project, Minister of Trade and Industry Beata Habyarimana said: “This project comes at the right time, when we are reviewing the 2011 industrial policy. The support to strengthen our capacities to effectively implement and monitor the effectiveness of industrialization strategies through a series of Enhancing the Quality of Industrial Policies (EQuIP) technical assistance and capacity development training is of paramount importance.”

Rwanda Development Board Chief Skills Officer, Elodie Rusera, said: “We welcome the support by the Government of Japan through the African Development Bank. We hope that the project will make policy processes more effective, independent, and sustainable.”

Aissa Toure Sarr, Country Manager, African Development Bank, said: “The project has been designed to support and stimulate private sector growth, contributing towards more inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Rwanda. It also aligns with the Bank’s industrialize Africa strategy. We are committed to providing policy advice and technical assistance to the government through the program.”

Masahiro Imai, Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda, said: “I would like to commend the efforts by the Government of Rwanda to stimulate the economy with an excellent openness and transparency vis-à-vis private and foreign investors and financiers. We hope that the project will contribute to achieving the sustainable and inclusive development of Rwanda.”

After contracting by 3.4 percent in 2020 due to Covid-19, Rwanda’s gross domestic product growth reached 10 percent in 2021, according to the 2022 African Economic Outlook. GDP growth is projected at 6.9 percent in 2022 and 7.9 percent in 2023.

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