Updates on the Recent WFTO Africa and Middle East 2014 Conference

1 December 2014 - African members of WFTO elected a new chair and new members of the board, and renamed their region during their recent regional conference in Arusha, Tanzania, last 12 and 13 November. Rain Morgan of Turqle Trading (South Africa) was elected as the new WFTO Africa Chair, and the region is now called WFTO Africa and the Middle East. Replacing the outgoing board members are Sabine Huester (Kiboko Leisure Wear, Kenya), Mbah Chrispus (Bamenda Handicraft Cooperative Society), Jim Kenyanya (Smolart Self Help, Kenya), and Sara Nakisanze (Easy Afric Designs, Uganda).

Rain Morgan is the first woman to sit as chair of the African region. She said: "The mission for the incoming board is to move WFTO Africa & Middle East closer to our global family - to contribute more to the global Fair Trading conversations - both inside WFTO and in the broader Fair Trading community and to make our voices as African and Middle Eastern Fair Traders heard.

"We have to make some concerted efforts to create support networks for ourselves, amongst ourselves - we have tremendous resources of knowledge and experience - we need to start sharing to build our own strong foundations - we need to speak to each other and for each other - we are one family in Africa and the Middle East."

Rain added that members who attended the conference were proud to see positive changes and success stories become possible since a rescue mission for COFTA (Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa) was first launched 4 years ago.

"It was exciting to see how African members are trying to learn from each other, build synergies and strengthen their regional network. There were a lot of new ideas. The Arusha Community Fair was also a positive experience and members benefited from the visit of an expert on product development and advice on stand presentation," said Natália Leal, Chief Executive of the WFTO Global Office.

The organisation's name change from WFTO Africa to WFTO Africa & Middle East Middle Eastern allows countries like Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Palestine to officially join the regional network.

The conference and AGM resulted in successful, productive and informative meetings. Congratulations WFTO Africa and the Middle East!

By Natalia Báez