NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – The Government is strengthening the cooperative movement as one of the dynamic avenues of addressing poverty and unemployment, President Mwai Kibaki has said.
In a speech read on his behalf by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka during the Ushirika Day celebrations held at Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Saturday, President Kibaki said the Government is sensitizing cooperatives on the need to encourage the youth to form cooperative societies and to integrate them in the cooperative movement.
The President Kibaki said he was impressed that the Ministry of Cooperative Development and Marketing has instituted major institutional policy and legal reforms in the sector which has since turned around the performance of cooperatives in the country.
“As a Government we are determined to ensure the youth are engaged in sustainable economic projects. I urge the youth in Kazi Kwa Vijana initiatives to embrace the culture of saving by joining cooperative societies,’’ said the President.
In order to enhance the growth and competitiveness of Saccos, the President said the government has enacted the Saccos Societies Act which has established Saccos Regulatory Authority to regulate the sub-sector.
Kibaki said the authority is mandated to prescribe the prudential standards for Saccos to undertake inspection or scrutinize Sacco’s financial affairs.
He said the Government is encouraging cooperatives to diversify their activities to embrace industrialization as one way of creating wealth and employment.
“I therefore urge cooperative societies to venture into value addition as this will generate more income and create employment opportunities,’’ said Kibaki.
The President said it was encouraging that the cooperative movement is engaged in search for new ways of doing things in the interest of national development and poverty alleviation, particularly in the countryside.
He said the recent formation of the Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters Ltd was aimed at providing market access by eliminating exploitative channels in the marketing of coffee.
He said the Cooperative Coffee Exporters Ltd will also guarantee a sustainable transfer of value to increase producer prices and encourage farmers to improve coffee husbandry.
The President also urged cooperatives to explore various innovative ways of maximizing benefits for their members by taking advantage of the various economic and financial reforms being undertaken by the government.
“Co-operatives should participate in government divestiture programme so that the farmers, through their co-operatives, can own the organizations that serve them such as sugar mills, New Kenya Cooperatives creameries, and cotton ginneries,” he said.
He noted that the theme of this year’s celebrations “Co-operative Enterprises Empower Women” was in line with the government’s policy on promoting gender equality and empowering women and added that the government established the fund to serve as an alternative source of finance to women who cannot access the formal financial sector.
And in his remarks, the Vice President said there is need for Kenyans to unite and embrace the spirit of brotherhood during the on-going campaigns for the August 4 referendum.
“We have to unite, work as a team and forge a common agenda as a country, during this campaign for the referendum,” he said.
Mr, Musyoka said the new constitution will help the country achieve vision 2030 which will provide more job opportunities for our youth and ICT technology.
During the celebrations, the Vice President also launched the Coop e Booth internet which he said will empower people in the rural areas access ICT services, information and be able to communicate easily thus reducing the rural-urban migration.
Present at the function included the Minister for Cooperatives, Joseph Nyagah, Assistant Minister for Cooperatives Linah Jebii Kilimo, Chairman CoopCom Ltd, Eng. Joseph Njoroge, Chairman Cooperative Alliance of Kenya Ltd. Stanley Muchiri, International Co-operative Alliance of Kenya Regional Director, Jan Erik Imbsen and the Chairman, National Council for Ushirika Day celebrations, Japhet Magomere among others.