The Ten Year (2023-2032) Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) Strategy for Africa validated at African Union Tripartite Meeting

The Tripartite Consultative Meeting took place in Cape Town, South Africa on 3-4 November 2022. It brought together tripartite constituents from across the continent to discuss the ten year SSE strategy and its implementation plan. The Strategy has already been validated by civil society and SSE organisations on 24-25 August 2022 in Windhoek, Namibia.

News | 15 November 2022
The objective of the meeting was for governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations to review and validate the SSE Strategy in preparation for its formal adoption by the AU Policy Organs, namely the Executive Council and the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments. The ten-year SSE strategy and implementation plan were developed by the African Union with technical support from the ILO.

The meeting was attended by the AU Member States of Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, South Africa, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In addition, social partners from across Africa participated such as Business Africa, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU),
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Central Congress of Trade Unions, Kenya (COTU-K), Organisation of Trade Unions for West Africa (OTUWA), East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC), Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) and the Mauritius Confederation of Workers of Public and Private Sectors (M-CTSP) and NEDLAC Community Constituents from South Africa.

The International Cooperatives Alliance, Africa (ICA-Africa), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Chairperson of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment (STC-SDLE-4) and the ILO were also represented at the meeting. From the ILO Joni Musabayana, Director of DWT/CO Pretoria and Jens Dyring Christensen, Senior Specialist for Sustainable Enterprises at DWT/CO Pretoria were present.

In his opening remarks Director Musabayana paid a special tribute to the many men and woman across Africa who are tirelessly working in the SSE, whether as members of cooperatives, mutual societies, associations, foundations, self-help groups or as social entrepreneurs. He said that people in the SSE seek to make the lives of the vulnerable and marginalized better. They seek to improve access to social protection and health services in impoverished communities, he noted.

He further added that SSE stakeholders generate employment and provide a wide range of services to their members in their communities that improve incomes and livelihoods. Director Musabayana thanked the AU for the long-standing partnership to promote Decent Work across Africa in line with the Abidjan Declaration as the global economy confirms the necessity for alternative development paradigms, and Governments and social partners are now more concerned about inclusiveness, full employment and promotion of the SSE.

Mr Christensen presented highlights from the ILO Resolution and Conclusions on Decent Work and the SSE adopted at the 110th International Labour Conference in June 2022. He provided an overview of the state of the SSE globally and in Africa stressing that many traditional practices of cooperation has existed in Africa across centuries. Mr Christensen also pointed out that social enterprises are a growing phenomenon in Southern and Eastern Africa. He noted that several countries in the region have adopted legal and policy frameworks on the SSE including Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Djibouti, Senegal and Tunisia. Others have draft laws or policies under review for adoption, including Morocco, Algeria, Mali and South Africa.

Mr Christensen stressed that growing attention is being paid by governments and social partners to more human-centred economic models. He noted that the SSE grants the opportunity to shed light on the growing diversity of enterprise models that combine social, economic and environmental objectives. He pointed out that the SSE has gained further recognition for its resilience role during the global financial crises and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. In conclusion, he elaborated on the six organisational forms that can fall under the SSE, as long as these follow the SSE values and principles. He noted, however, there can be other forms that fall under the SSE according to national context.

The two-day event included several presentations and input by governments and social partners to the 10 Year SSE strategy and its Implementation plan, which as the end of the meeting - with amendments incorporated - was validated by the tripartite meeting ready for adoption by the Executive Council and the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments.