Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Africa’s consumers need urgent protection

CI’s new Head of Africa Onica Makwakwa stresses the importance of a strong consumer rights movement in Africa as its economy is predicted to grow.

Thoughts of my first 100 days as CI’s new Head of Africa have been dominated by the incredible support, dedication and commitment of CI members, not just in Africa but globally.

In true African style, CI members have called, written and visited to extend a warm welcome; wasting no time to express their readiness to work with the office and alongside their peers through the creation of regional hubs.

The success of the regional hubs initiative is important to the consumer movement as is the sustainability of consumer organisations in Africa. While the world is buzzing about Africa being the next “gold mine,”  a strong consumer movement is critical now more than ever in ensuring that interest in the African market is not borne at the expense of consumers.

The urgency of our movement has been further confirmed in many small group and individual meetings with CI members. For example, there has been a convening in Pretoria of select members who participated in the consultative workgroup on the creation of regional hubs.

There has also been the training on Consumer Protection Law and Standardisation hosted in conjunction with UNIDO with members from West Africa in Abidjan.

And there has been a workshop, Credit Reporting Financial Literacy Project, with members in Tanzania hosted by the Tanzania Consumer Association Consumer Advocacy Society and funded by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. 

For the new year, we have aspirations to strengthen and grow the consumer movement in Africa by focusing on building the capacity and sustainability of our consumer organisations while simultaneously advancing an agenda that is relevant to the African consumer in an innovative, effective and timely manner.

Africa’s consumer movement stands on the shoulders of incredibly dedicated leaders who are champions for consumers within their own countries and beyond.

For African consumers the future is NOW; and with it comes the challenge to seed growth and prosperity in the movement TODAY.

Consumer organisations in Africa are ready, but we continue to welcome the support of our brothers and sisters in the international community. We invite you to walk the journey with us and to share your own best practices. Follow us on Twitter @ci_africa.

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