Speech By President Uhuru Kenyatta During The 97th International Co-operative Day Celebrations

Fellow Co-operators,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join you in celebrating the 97th International Co-operative Day, which also coincides with the 25th United Nations International Day of Co-operatives. As we celebrate this auspicious day, popularly known in Kenya as Ushirika Day, let me extend my warmest good tidings to all co-operators in Kenya and across the Globe.

Co-operatives and Co-operators worldwide take this day as an opportunity to increase awareness on the vital roles played by Co-operatives within local communities, Society, Nations and Internationally.

This day also allows us all to reflect on the achievements of the Co-operative Movement, not only in advancing the interests and improving the welfare of Members but also their contribution to national cohesion, economic prosperity, international solidarity, equality and World Peace.

The theme of this year’s celebrations CO-OPS 4 DECENT WORK aptly fits into the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal 8 – Securing decent work and economic growth.

The theme recognizes the fact that Co-operatives are people-centered entities that prioritize human development and social justice within the workplace and other spaces. In line with the theme, co-operatives should endeavour to be champions for better employment and labour relations across the board by leading by example.

This day also provides an opportunity for us to strengthen and extend partnerships between the Co-operatives themselves as well as between the Sector and other actors, including Government. These collaborative structures and synergies are not just at local or domestic levels, but are increasingly at regional, continental, inter-continental and global levels.

Around the globe, Co-operatives have brought together humanity in a way akin to no other, and in more ways than we can fathom, they have made this world a far better place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Here in Kenya, our political, social and economic development has been and continues to be inextricably tied with the growth of the Co-operative Sector. The Co-operative Movement in Kenya features over 23,000 registered co-operative societies and commands a membership of over 14 million people. Our vibrant and diverse Co-operative Sector is recognized as a model in Africa; ranking as number one on the Continent and 7th globally.

Co-operatives in Kenya have mobilized Members’ savings and deposits in excess of Kshs.732 billion, feature an asset base of approximately Ksh. 1 trillion and a loan portfolio of Ksh.700 billion. Directly and indirectly, Co-operatives account for 45% of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product and 30% of national savings and deposits.

Furthermore, Co-operatives in Kenya directly employ more than 300,000 people, in addition to their invaluable contribution in creating secondary employment, supporting enterprise and powering the economic activities of tens of millions of Kenyans. Indeed, by even the most conservative of estimates, a full two-thirds of all Kenyans can directly or indirectly earn a living from the Co-operative Sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In addition to their invaluable contribution to individual prosperity and to our national economy, Co-operatives in Kenya have played an integral role in fostering national unity and cohesion. The Co-operative Sector is a towering example of what can be achieved through Unity, through coming together for the common good, through hard work, enterprise, sacrifice and unyielding commitment to positive goals.

It is for this reason that since Independence, Government has placed the Co-operative Sector at the heart of our National Development Agenda; counting on the Sector as a reliable development partner in terms of social, economic, cultural and political progress.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My Government recognizes the importance of co-operatives in wealth and employment creation.

In this regard, the Co-operative Sector has been identified as one of the key partners in the realization of the Big 4 Agenda – decent and affordable housing; affordable healthcare for all; food and nutrition security for all Kenyans and job creation and economic growth through manufacturing.

Co-operatives have been and continue to be the bedrock of Agriculture and Food Security in Kenya. Reform and Modernization steps, such as those deployed with regard to the New Kenya Co-operative Creameries (NKCC), are evidence of my Government’s commitment to assisting Co-operatives operating within the Agriculture and Food Security recover and overcome the challenges of the past and stride boldly into a better and brighter future.

Under the Manufacturing Pillar, my Government has prioritized reforms and revitalization measures in various economic sub-sectors in which Co-operatives have traditionally been huge players, but which over time have experienced challenges. In that vein, we have taken proactive steps that have resulted in positive gains for Co-operatives operating in the Coffee sub-sector, in Cotton, in Livestock and Dairy, as well as the Jua Kali Sub-Sector.

Our Goal as Government is to serve as facilitators and enablers, to clear the path for Co-operatives so that they and their members can realize their full potential.

In terms of Affordable Housing, my Government is partnering with the Co-operative Sector to ensure that as many Kenyans as possible enjoy the dignity of owning their own decent homes.

I am informed that with over 1,980 Housing/Investment Co-operatives with an asset base of Kshs.31 billion, Co-operatives are an ideal vehicle to provide at least 25% of the 500,000 new houses required across the country. It is worthwhile to note that over the years, Co-operatives have provided 80% of the affordable housing availed to the middle and lower income groups.

I am further informed that already 12 Deposit Taking Saccos have subscribed to the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company which was recently established as a vehicle to unlock liquidity for mortgage financing under the Affordable Housing Programme.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Even as the Co-operative Movement has positively impacted on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Kenyans since independence, it behooves us all to continuously raise the bar, particularly on issues of governance, so as to safeguard the hard-earned deposits and savings of the millions of Kenyans who are members of various Co-operative Societies.

In this regard, my Government, after extensive consultations with the Co-operatives Sector, has initiated a number of policy and regulatory measures which are designed to create an enabling environment for co-operative enterprises to thrive. In this respect, I direct the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Co-operatives to fast-track the formulation of the National Co-operative Policy and immediately operationalize the proposed Sacco Societies Fraud Investigation Unit (SSFIU) within the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA).

Further, and in order to address liquidity challenges faced by Saccos and to facilitate Inter-Sacco lending, I direct the Cabinet Secretary, The National Treasury, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Trade Industry and Co-operatives and Governor, Central Bank of Kenya to speed up the process of establishing the Central Liquidity facility which would enable Saccos to participate in the National Payment System and allow them to come up with more innovative products for Kenyans.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I conclude, I invite you all to join me in applauding the significant contribution and positive impact that Co-operatives in Kenya and across the Globe have had. Together, we also wish the Co-operative Movement at home and abroad every success as it continues to make Kenya and the world a better place for all humanity. Uniting families, communities, nations, regions and the globe. That is the unity of purpose we are rooting for. Asante.

God bless you all. God bless Kenya.

Source: The President (Latest News)