African cooperative leaders share their observations on the 10th ILO-JCCU Study Tour

African cooperative leaders visited Japanese cooperatives and exchanged knowledge and practices in improving members’ livelihoods and addressing various development challenges in the changing world of work.

Noticia | 30 de octubre de 2019
A farmers' market of an agricultural cooperative
The 10th edition of the study tour was organized by the ILO and the Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union (JCCU) from 5-14 September 2019 in Tokyo and its vicinity. The study tour is aligned with the 6th cooperative principle “Cooperation among cooperatives” and aims to promote knowledge exchange between African and Japanese cooperatives for collaboration. The first edition was organized in 2010 within the framework of ILO’s CoopAfrica project (2008-11) for the promotion of cooperatives in nine countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. From 2010 to 2018, nine editions of the study tour have been organized with 38 cooperative leaders from 16 African countries.

This year, the following five cooperative leaders from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria participated in the study tour and visited a range of cooperatives in different sectors (e.g. agriculture, energy, finance and insurance, healthcare, childcare and eldercare, retail, and other services).
A recycling cetntre of the Co-op Deli
To mark the 10th edition of the study tour and on the occasion of the ILO Centenary, the programme highlighted cooperative responses in Japan to the mega changes in the world of work, such as demographic shifts, technological advances, and climate change. The full programme is available here.

Solar panels installed on the rooftop of the Co-op Deli store
For instance at the Co-op Deli, a union of seven consumer cooperatives in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures with the total membership of 5 million, participants visited a grocery store that operates by solar energy produced on its rooftop and a recycling centre that processes recyclables collected from consumer members through Co-op Deli’s logistics channels. The recycling centre employs persons with disabilities to facilitate their social inclusion in partnership with local welfare organizations. The cooperative also presented its use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for sales forecasting and voice ordering applications.

Mr. Guy Tchami at the public seminar
At the end of the study tour, a public seminar on cooperatives and the future of work was co-organized by ILO Tokyo and the Japan Co-operative Alliance (JCA) at the United Nations University in Tokyo. It brought together around 80 participants including H.E. Mohammad Gana Yisa, Ambassador of Nigeria to Japan, officials from Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan Embassies in Japan, trade union leaders, researchers and cooperative practitioners. Mr. Guy Tchami, Research and Policy Specialist at ILO COOP Unit, made a keynote presentation on the megatrends shaping the future of work and the potential of cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy (SSE) organizations in addressing these trends. Subsequently, five African cooperative leaders made presentations on the cooperative movement in their countries and activities of their cooperatives. Presentations were followed by an active discussions with participants on how to tap into the potential of cooperatives in addressing challenges in the world of work. The summary report of the seminar is available here.

The participants shared their observations during the study tour and next steps they would like to take in applying lessons learned in this report.

Group photo at the public seminar