East African Community member states are formulating a new law to help strengthen and harmonise co-operatives in the region.
The East African Community Cooperative Societies Bill, 2014, which was moved by Uganda’s East Africa Legislation Assembly (Eala) MP Mike Ssebalu, aims to create a harmonised legal framework that will enable co-operatives to realise their full potential.
Members of the public from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will give their views on the document in public hearings, which started in Dar es Salaam last week.
The Bill is sponsored by the Eala Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, chaired by Burundi’s Isabelle Ndahayo.
“All EAC members have co-operative laws but we need to harmonise them in order to promote co-operatives across the region,” said Ms Ndahayo.
Federal co-operative society
The Tanzania Federation of Co-operatives research and marketing officer Ahadiel Mmbughu proposed that the Bill also provides for a Federal East African Co-operative Society and regulator to mobilise cheap funds for saccos and set standards for products and services.
Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) president Philip Muchiri said the law would strengthen co-operatives through the sharing of best practice approaches, pooling of resources and professional management. EAFF has had observer status in Eala since March 2010.
Mr Muchiri said the Bill would give co-operatives power to make independent trade decisions across the region without experiencing rigorous bureaucracy from states.
Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives managing director, George Ototo said the document should also consider the different systems of government in the region, saying the co-operative movement in Kenya has now devolved to counties.
The Bill will go for a second and third readings in the Assembly before it is presented to the Heads of State.
Additional reporting by Jaston Binala