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Eala passes Bill to empower cooperatives

By Phillip Mwakio | February 1st 2015

The East African Legislative Assembly has passed the East Africa Community (EAC) Cooperative Societies Bill 2014, giving the cooperative fraternity and stakeholders something to smile about.

The Bill, now awaiting assent by the EAC Heads of State, provides a legal framework for cooperative societies to strengthen the role of the private sector as an effective force for developing economies.

The President of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation Phillip Kiriro said the passing of the Bill is good news for the cooperative movement. The federation’s Executive Director, Steve Muchiri, termed the passage of the Bill as historic. “I have just returned from a stakeholders meeting in Addis Ababa and everybody there had expressed optimism,” he said. “The long wait has finally paid off,” he added.

The Bill is divided into 10 parts. Clause three of the Bill deals with solving problems collectively, co-ordination of knowledge and skills and promoting self-reliance amongst members. The rest of the areas deal with the formation, rights and duties of members and privileges. Other areas include the assets and liabilities, settlement of disputes and winding up and dissolution of societies.

The Bill is based on the understanding that each partner State will encourage the efficient use of resources and promote the development of private sector organisations such as the chambers of commerce, industry confederations and associations and agricultural outfits among others.

At the national level, cooperatives bear the primary responsibility to develop themselves but regional and international support and cooperation may be needed to supplement domestic efforts.

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