22 August, 2016
KOMI MENSANH KESSOUAGNI, the Secretary General of the Union of Vendors of Construction Materials of Togo (SYVEMACOT) and Coordinator of the StreetNet Regional Focal Point for West and Central Africa emphasized on the progress made since the last StreetNet Congress in 2013.
Comrade Komi comes from Organization which is a founding member of the National umbrella organization of workers in the informal sector of Togo – FAINATRASIT, grouping twenty three membership and union organizations of Togo, working in the sectors of handicraft, market and informal economy.
The West and Central Africa Focal Point numbered up to thirteen (13) affiliated organizations of the following countries:
Democratic Republic of Congo: 2 (LDFC & ASSOVACO), Burundi: 1 (SYVEBU), Rwanda: 1 (SYTRIECI), Togo: 1 (FAINATRASIT), Benin: 1 (UNSYNVEPIB), Senegal: 2 (CNTS & SUDEMS), Niger 1 (FENASEIN), Guinea: 1 (CNTG), Liberia: 1 (NAPETUL), Ghana: 1 (IHVAG), Sierra Leone: 1 (SLeTU).
Comrade Komi notes that the Regional Focal Point (RFP) faces both challenges and successes.
"The main challenge of the RFP to enable a fluent communication among the affiliates in the region is keeping a directory in which we will have telephone and fax numbers, Po Boxes, E-mail addresses, Skype contacts, Facebook addresses etc.
All affiliates can be joined on Skype. I am saying this because still at our meetings in 2012, all the participants received the Skype software compact disk in order to install it. We also talk about video conferences and did dozens of such communications with affiliates from Senegal, Niger and Guinea. Due to some training in English, the RFP has a fluent communication with English speaking countries. At the moment the focal point should be able to start communication between the affiliates who have already set up their Skype. The RFP is in continuous Skype communication with the Regional Organizer Sibailly Douhoure and Wisborn Malaya, who is in charge of the RFP for Eastern and Southern African region" , – underlined the Coordinator.
According to the Coordinator Komi, the Work Plan of the RFP has succeeded up to 75% taking into account the main challenges they face, but there is always a space for improvement if all the members are willing to work hard and jointly.
Regarding the recruitment of new affiliates, there is also some progress. Two new affiliates from Burkina Faso and Nigeria will join the RFP for West and Central Africa. The recruitment of vendors of the markets, craftsmen, and trades in the informal sector is always on the RFP agenda.
Comrade Komi noted that they are also working on organizing young people and they require at least 30% of youth by country in the branches after every activity the affiliates hold in their countries. The motivating force of the members by sensitization and training of youths has been also shown.
There was a huge step forward with the «New Manifesto Campaign » and the launching of the «Guide for the New Manifesto Campaign».
The Day of November 14 became a real Day for the actors of informal economy to express their concerns and demands. Five of the managing members of FAINATRASIT had followed the linguistic training in English to facilitate exchanges with English speaking affiliates.
There is also some development of social and solidarity economy initiatives by creating a health care and tontine mutual.
However, Comrade Komi suggests "reinforcing the Focal Point and its responsibility regarding the affiliates".
He recommends the following:
- To improve the communication between the affiliates in the region
- To set a regional training of affiliates and allow exchanges during the training;
- To enable affiliates to be trained in French language for English speaking countries and English for French speaking countries to avoid the language barrier;
- To admit responsible of the focal points’ coordinators in the international council to serve as a bridge between the executive and the affiliates;
- To support training projects on the role and responsibilities of the members of the executive board of affiliate organizations;
- To support the training, sensitization, and a Health care credit and savings mutual for a better living of the affiliates;
- To create a network of focal points in view to share challenges and improvements in the region.
In conclusion, the Coordinator Komi KESSOUAGNI stated:
"We are exhorting officials and managers in charge of the affiliated organizations to work hard for better working conditions of the informal sector workers, since our country is moving towards the formalization according to what came out of the 104th Session of the ILO Conference in 2015".
Interviewed by Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer, August 2016