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Finding ways to strengthen the microfinance sector on the continent will be the main focus of the 17th African Confederation of Cooperative, Savings and Credit Association (ACCOSCA) summit, that kicks off in Kigali tomorrow.

John Peter Rwema, the executive director Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR), said the summit presents Rwanda and continental sector stakeholders and experts an opportunity to engage and share experience so as to devise better mechanisms on how to further enhance local and Africa’s microfinance industry.

The five-day summit will be held under the theme, « Promoting Africa development agenda through financial co-operative integrated systems », and will bring together over 1,000 delegates from Africa and beyond to discuss key issues affecting the sector on the continent, Rwema said on Friday.

Speaking in a recent interview with The New Times, Francois Kanimba, The Minister for Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs, said the summit will provide a platform for SACCOs in Africa to discuss mechanisms on how they can create integrated systems that work toward the continent’s development agenda.

« We hope to unite the sector and have clear objectives for the continent, especially in regards to African development agenda.

« We intend to create linkages between co-operative financial institutions and other stakeholders to network, create partnerships, share experiences, good practices and come up with practical and innovative ways of addressing the many issues that face the co-operative sector, » he said.

The annual summit is expected to attract participants from 30 countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Seychelles, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Canada, Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and the USA. Microfinance institutions play a central role in governments’ efforts to deepen financial inclusion, as well as boost household income and reduce poverty, especially among rural communities.

Meanwhile, the annual Savings Week kicks off today under the theme, « The right path to self-reliance ». The drive, that ends on October 31, aims at encouraging a savings culture among the population.

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