WOCCU Hosts Fifth SACCA Africa Congress
Record Attendance--300 Leaders Representing 19 Countries
SACCA Congress participants pose with the King of Swaziland
Madison, WI-World Council of Credit Unions,
(WOCCU) teamed up with the Canada Co-operative
Association (CCA), the Irish Credit Union
Foundation, and the Swaziland Association
of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SASCCO) to
host the annual Savings and Credit Co-
operative Association Africa (SACCA) Congress.
Over 300 credit union leaders from 19 countries
met in Mbabane, Swaziland to discuss issues
affecting different regions and credit union
movements in Africa.
Attendance this year was at a record
high. "Attendance clearly demonstrates the
increasing importance of credit unions in the
microfinance industry in Africa," noted Erick
Sile, WOCCU technical officer for Africa and a
key organizer for the event. "Not only did we
have credit union staff and volunteers eager to
learn about ways to turn their institutions into
more efficient and viable financial institutions,
but we also observed an increasing number of
government and central bank officials seeking
best practices that will help them regulate
credit unions in their countries," he continued.
Sylvester Kadzola, WOCCU board director and
Malawi delegate, added, "there is a growing
interest in national movements to join WOCCU as
direct members. It is very likely that before
the end of this year there will be two or more
membership applications submitted to WOCCU."
The King of Swaziland, His Majesty Mswati III
a special guest at the conference, as was the
Prime Minister. In his opening speech, the King
welcomed participants to his country and
encouraged the SACCOs to continue to reach out to
the underserved. He spoke of the threat HIV/AIDS
poses to Africa and asked everyone involved in
the cooperative movement to act as an agent to
fight against the spread of this deadly disease.
He also praised the credit union movement for the
role it plays in the Swaziland economy by
reaching out to people in the rural areas and
offering financial services to the vast majority
of Swazi who are not served by commercial
The SACCA Congress gathers representatives of
savings and credit cooperatives (African credit
unions) on a yearly basis to exchange ideas and
perspectives. Attendees to this year's Congress
participated in informative lectures and
workshops facilitated by credit union leaders
from around the world, including WOCCU board
member Sylvester Kadzola; WOCCU president and CEO
Arthur Arnold; Louisiana Credit Union League CEO
Anne Cochran; Canadian Cooperative Association's
senior director of international development Jo-
Anne Ferguson; WOCCU delegate and representative
of the Irish League of Credit Unions, Kay
Geoghegan; and Swaziland Credit Union League CEO
Bongani Masuku among others.
l-r: Arthur Arnold, WOCCU president and CEO and His Majesty Mswati III discuss african SACCOs
Topics at this year's Congress focused on the
importance of strategic planning, managers'
responsibilities, financial disciplines,
approaches to lending, business planning, asset
liability management, savings mobilization, and
marketing and the importance of technology. In
addition, there were case studies on Rwanda,
Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Canada and Ireland.
Good governance was also a focal point
the conference. Recently named WOCCU's fourth
mission (in addition to being an advocate for
credit unions, providing a platform for knowledge
exchange and being the leading development
group), governance is a critical issue for credit
unions everywhere, particularly in Africa.
Good governance in all areas of the world is
essential to fighting corruption in the credit
union system, and a clear definition of roles
within the system is essential to ensuring good
governance. Sile explained, "We hope that the
role of management and the board of directors
will become clear at this conference, since both
groups will be present."
Plans for the 2005 SACCA Congress, hosted in
d' Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), will begin early
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 51,000 credit unions in 100 countries serve 196 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.