MASERU — The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Africa regional meeting scheduled for October in Maseru could boost the development of co-operatives in the region, the commissioner for co-operatives has said.
‘Maphamoli Lekoetje told the Sunday Express on Thursday that the regional assembly will focus on issues of development and sustainability of co-operatives.
Delegates are expected to come from west, east and southern Africa.
“The assembly will discuss issues of good governance, best management practices of co-operatives and the development of youth co-operatives,” Lekoetje said.
She added that the government of Lesotho was encouraging players in the co-operative movement to venture into the tourism sector.
“We have a number of active youth co-operatives in Lesotho,” Lekoetje said.
“Youth co-operative development is another area that will receive special attention at the assembly.
“Such co-operatives are already operating pony trekking businesses for tourists.
“We are looking into ways of introducing the best management and governance practices for their sustainability and development.”
The ICA regional assembly is held every two years.
The last meeting was held in Nigeria.
Lekoetje said most co-operatives in Lesotho were in the agricultural sector with most of these producing crops for subsistence.
“We are working hard to link the co-operatives in the agricultural sector to the local market,” she said.
“But the idea is that they should operate on a commercial basis. There is a ready market for them to sell their produce.”
Lekoetje said her department was currently in the process of updating data on all co-operatives in order to register active as well as dormant co-operatives.
She said the data will help the department identify co-operatives that might need assistance.
There are currently 1 800 registered co-operatives in Lesotho but the majority of them are said to be dormant.
“In the 1970s and 1980s most of these (co-operatives) were supported by donor funds and when those in charge left, the people who were left in charge did not have the capacity to sustain the co-operatives and they collapsed,” Lekoetje said.
She said the challenge was to ensure that co-operatives which are still active were equipped with financial and governance skills to enhance their capacity to sustain and develop into big operations.
“We are going to meet with the members of the co-operatives to map the way forward and we will assist them develop their co-operatives,” Lekoetje said.
Lesotho’s co-operatives can be divided into five categories: savings and credit, agro-based, tourism, multi-purpose and handicraft production.