PAN-AFRICAN COOPERATIVE PROGRAMME (PANACOOP)
The Pan-African Cooperative Intervention Project (INPACOOP) emanated from the will of the Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), to continue its partnership with the PCC and its institute, the former ISPEC. This partnership was part of a wider pan-African vision because it focused both on supporting the training offered by the former ISPEC and on supporting member countries of the PCC in the implementation of the ten-year development plan (PAD). The implementation of the INPACOOP project witnessed two phases:
- The first phase, which took place from 1st April 2003 to 31st October 2004 made it possible to obtain within the PAD component the firm support of States in favour of this strategy on the one hand and the involvement of other donors in the process of implementation of the PAD on the other.
- The second phase, which took place from November 2004 to March 2008 offered the opportunity under the PAD component to provide assistance over a period of 41 months to qualified countries for the formulation of their cooperative development policies and their implementation on the one hand, and to provide support to the PCC in its positioning strategy towards member countries, development partners and the holding of its fifteenth session in Brazzaville, Congo, on the other hand.
- It should be noted that the INPACOOP Project made considerable progress to enable the PCC to support the African cooperative movement in its ability to create a favourable environment for its emergence. In spite of this progress, much work still has to be done to consolidate these gains.
The INPACOOP project was definitely original in terms of its design as well as the actions it enabled the PCC and its tools including the AUCD and the PAD Coordination Structure to undertake. However, at the end of this project, the PCC is once more confronted with new challenges. These can be referred to as the after-INPACOOP challenges and they are still as important today as ever.
The environment of African States, characterised by increasing poverty, malnutrition, increased unemployment and illiteracy challenges the actors at different levels of cooperative development to a greater contribution of the cooperative formula to the improvement of the living conditions of disadvantaged populations including women, youths and persons with disabilities. The formula is taken into account in the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (GESP), Poverty-Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), Strategic Framework for Poverty Reduction (SFPR), and the Rural Sector Development Strategy (RSDS) in most African countries.
Similarly, strategies for the decentralization of administrative powers under way in several African countries offer real opportunities for the development of democracy at the grassroots. Yet the cooperative formula still remains once more a democratic approach to capacity building at the grassroots as a condition for sustainable development.
This socio-economic, cultural and political landscape presents for the PCC and its instruments, several challenges, the most important of which are the seven (7) challenges below:
1. Physical existence and effective functioning of the PCC To efficiently achieve its expected mission, the PCC should have a functional head office that is separate from its training institute based in Cotonou in view of enhanced visibility.
2. The continuation of support to member countries of the PCC in the formulation or updating of their cooperative development policies and the subsequent programmes. Mindful of the level of development of each country, it is necessary to develop appropriate strategies to provide close coaching to the counties. It should be noted that, in view of the extension of the action of the PCC to the other African countries as decided at the 15th session, there is still a lot of work to be done.
3. The continuation of the activities of the committees for the implementation of the PAD and the promotion of cooperatives. The need for a permanent consultative and action framework for cooperatives such as national confederations or boards of cooperatives requires that in addition to the conventional administrative structures and consultative forums between networks of cooperatives or the projects with a cooperative dimension, there should be an independent bipartite framework (private and public) not only to direct and coordinate the actions but also to compile and disseminate statistical data, and carry out the necessary advocacy and lobbying in favour of cooperatives. Despite the existence of this framework in many countries, there is need for consolidation mindful of the arrival of new countries, following the expansion process.
4. Strengthening action research in the field of cooperatives After several years of training of senior executive personnel at the service of cooperative promotion, the AUCD needs to focus its strategies towards action research to assist member countries of the PCC in developing innovative strategies for cooperative development. In this context, partnership may be developed with ministries in charge of research or regional and specialized international research structures. To develop the ability to solve real problems on the field, action research should be strengthened at all levels of the AUCD.
5. Further consolidation of continuous professional training instruments such as PREDOCA using the material that has been produced. The AUCD should monitor the implementation of continuous professional training including PREDOCA using the products that were designed under the INPACOOP to identify recurring problems and find appropriate solutions. To do this, PREDOCA should not only be extended to all member countries of the PCC, as INPACOOP was used as a basis for the launching of the pilot programme, but there is also a need to conduct proper promotion of the new programmes including DELDEC in high demand if read from the multiple requests received.
6. Assistance to training in the form of scholarships. Despite the formulation and implementation of the INPACOOP project, unmet needs for junior and senior executive staff to support the development of cooperative entrepreneurship are still enormous. In fact, to design policies and programmes, the alumni of the former ISPEC and other specialists were constantly used even though they were scarce in some countries. Given this lack of senior executive personnel, the number of specialists responsible for moving forward the African cooperative movement must be strengthened quantitatively and qualitatively by the training of new African executive personnel. It should be noted that the fieldwork done by INPACOOP and the advocacy of the PCC towards countries have sparked renewed interest and training needs that need to be met.
7. Support to the reform of AUCD training programmes and the consolidation of the development and marketing service. After executing certain training programmes for a relatively long period of time as some of these programmes have been existing for over 15 years, there is a felt need to revisit them as well as to conduct a study on the impact of the training offered by the former ISPEC. To provide an answer to this request from the field, the last International Scientific Council of the former ISPEC of October 2006 found it necessary to initiate a study on the reforms to be carried out within this institution. It is especially a matter of adapting the training programmes to the new requirements, the current socio economic evolution and the needs of the labour market in PCC member countries. Similarly to scale up the brand image of the PCC and AUCD, marketing efforts must continue to raise awareness on the reform and the resulting products. This is why the PCC, to rise up to the challenges of the post INPACOOP era, adopted in July 2011 the PAN-AFRICAN COOPERATIVE PROGRAMME (PANACOOP). PANACOOP has three components:
The institutional support to the PCC component that comprises the following stages:
1. Dissemination of basic texts and positioning of PCC programmes;
2. Provision of adequate physical premises for the PCC, i.e. equipped and functional headquarters;
3. Extension of the services of the PCC to all member countries of the AU, in keeping with the decision of the 15th Session and the opening of the sub-regional office;
4. Specific actions of the PCC to implement.
The establishment of the institutional bases of the PCC will endow the organization with the ability to carry out the activities necessary for cooperative development in Africa. Activities to be implemented include:
- evaluation and updating of the PAD;
- compilation and dissemination of information on the cooperative movement;
- supporting the positioning of PANACOOP and cooperative development programmes of member countries with technical and financial partners;
- supporting national PAD implementation and cooperative promotion committees;
- consolidation of partnership with specialized organizations (ILO, OIF, COMMONWEALTH, ARAB LEAGUE, ICA, CIDA, AFD, USAID, GIZ, DANIDA...) for the promotion of cooperatives;
- Organization every two years of meetings with national cooperative development players for the exchange of views, analysis of the environment of cooperatives and implemented projects;
- Constant advocacy for the cooperative movement among States during African and international meetings.
The support to PCC Member Countries Component, relating to the continuation of the formulation and implementation of cooperative development policies and programmes, comprises three stages namely:
1. Definition of support strategies;
2. Implementation of support strategies;
3. Evaluation of support strategies;
The support to the AUCD component comprises the five (5) stages below:
• Support for action research;
• Consolidation of PREDOCA;
• Implementation of the DELDEC programme;
• Support for training by granting scholarships;
• Consolidation of the development and marketing service of AUCD.
The objective of PANACOOP is to contribute significantly to the improvement of the living conditions of the population of member countries of the PCC through viable cooperative enterprises that offer equal opportunities for sustainable employment and stable incomes for women, young people and men in view of poverty reduction.
The desired impact is that the populations of PCC member countries should further improve their living conditions through viable cooperative enterprises that offer equal opportunities for sustainable employment and stable incomes for women, young people and men.
The aim of the project is to support the PCC in the implementation of the updated PAD with particular emphasis on the following areas:
• Its physical and institutional existence,
• Support to member countries in the implementation of specific policies and programmes and Development of action research and training of stakeholders.
Within the framework of the implementation of the programme, the main expected outcomes include, among others, the following:
1) The revised and translated legal framework of the PCC is widely disseminated and known by the member countries of the African Union
2) The strategic development plan of the PCC is developed and adopted
3) The necessary institutional and logistical support is provided to the PCC
4) The PAD is updated, disseminated and implemented
5) Technical and financial partners are mobilized in favour of already adopted cooperative programmes
6) The National Committees of the twenty five countries that do not yet have cooperative policies and programmes are supported in designing their policies and programmes
7) Two research-action initiatives on relevant and timely topics are conducted annually in member countries involved
8) The dissemination of PREDOCA is extended to other requesting member countries of the AU
9) The process of online learning is introduced in the training
10) The implementation of DELDEC as a continuous training programme is extended
11) The development and marketing of new AUCD products are made in member countries of the AU.
12) The efficient management of the financial, human and material resources allows for the achievement of expected results
13) The cooperative bank and the development, investment and guarantee funds are effectively established and are functional.