Today, in the framework of an inter-ministerial meeting organised by the Government of Rwanda, the Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente met ICA President Ariel Guarco. Mr Ngirente said he was very happy with the Conference. “We in Rwanda need to learn from you on cooperatives,” he said. “In Rwanda, cooperatives are a tool not only for economic activities but also for social cohesion, including women’s and youth empowerment. Even when people leave a cooperative, they keep the teachings of being in a cooperative and this is useful for their whole life.” 

He added: “In Rwanda there are so many cooperatives, in so many different activities, that almost everybody belongs to one. Rwandan cooperatives contribute US$45bn to the Rwandan economy, which is a very big contribution.”

Dr Guarco said it was an  honour for the cooperative movement to be in Rwanda and “have this important meeting with you”.He added:“The conference participants, who come from 95 countries, have been able to admire your country. We came to organise this successful conference, with over 1000 participants. When we originally thought of having a global conference on development, we thought we should do it not only in Africa, but in the heart of Africa, where Rwanda finds itself. 

“We wanted to show to the world, the development and social cohesion potential of the African cooperative movement. I can ensure you that the over 1,000 participants of this conference will not easily forget it.” 

ICA President added that two resolutions had been approved at the  General Assembly: one on positive peace, to show the role of cooperatives to social cohesion and the avoidance of conflicts. The other concerned development, and was discussed at the global inter-governmental cooperative meeting organised by the Government of Rwanda with Ministers in charge of cooperatives and sustainable development from Lesotho, Botswana, Cameroon, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, & Rwanda.

“The idea behind that resolution is that we in the cooperative movement should not only cooperate among ourselves but also with governments in promoting development through cooperatives,” said Dr Guarco.

Dr Guarco also paid visits to several cooperatives in Rwanda with his colleague Bruno Roelants, the Director-General of the ICA.