DECP’s regional activities in Africa

In addition to its bilateral relationships with a number of African employers’ organisations DECP is also involved in a number of regional activities.

The East African Employers' Organisation.

Firstly, there is the recent development of the East African Community (EAC) which has necessitated a response by the East African employers’ organisations. The EAC and in particular the adoption of the EAC Common Markets Protocol in 2010 will result in deeper economic integration of markets in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. Employers’ organisations will thus have to develop coordinated views on issues such as e.g. the free movement of workers, harmonisation of labour laws and of social security.
DECP has therefore decided to work with its East African counterparts towards the creation of the East African Employers’ Organisation (EAEO) which will be based in Arusha in Tanzania which is also the home of the EAC. A constitution has been agreed upon and has now been registered in Tanzania. Also, the new donor initiative Trademark East Africa has agreed to fund the placing of a fulltime EAEO employee with the East African Business Council (EABC) offices in Arusha.
In time, the EAEO should obtain observer status with the EAC and serve as the voice of business of East Africa.


Training the trainers.

Secondly, DECP has always held the view that representing the interests of their members constitutes the prime task of employers’ organisations. This will quite frequently involve negotiations e.g. with the trade unions (collective bargaining) or with the government. Thus when the employers’ organisations of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda indicated that they would like to improve their negotiating skills, DECP responded by teaming up with the AWVN (the Dutch Employers’ Federation) and provide specialised training in so-called ‘interest based negotiating‘. This involves a mixture of theory and practical (role-playing) exercises with the emphasis on finding creative solutions taking into account not just your own objectives but also the interests of your counterpart.
The training was provided in 2 stages: the first stage in 2009 and 2010 involved training of 3 future trainers from each of the 4 countries. Subsequently in 2011, the 4 employers’ organisations have started to provide negotiating training themselves, with AWVN trainers attending to advise and assist. Ultimately the newly graduated trainers will provide the training on their own and in doing so, will provide their organisations not only with relevant expertise but also with a new source of revenue.

The ProInvest programme.

Thirdly, DECP starting in April 2010 has teamed up with the ILO/International Training Centre (ILO/ITC) and 5 employers’ organisations from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in order to have these organisations benefit from additional funds provided by the EU’s ProInvest project “Maximising the influence of EO’s for a better business environment and private sector development”.
Strengthening the employers’ organisations and increasing their effectiveness would focus on two main objectives: enhancing their public profile by strengthening their lobbying and advocacy capacity as well as increasing their attractiveness to their members and potential members by improving their offer of services. The project provided for additional staff for the EO’s as well as a coordinator seconded by ILO/ITC.
Over an 18 months period DECP and ILO/ITC organised a substantial number of sessions in the various capitals dealing with relevant issues, such as e.g. ‘How to set up and run sustainable training services’ and ‘How to draft an advocacy strategy’.
In concluding the project the 5 EO’s have now drafted their respective Business Agendas with the objective of presenting it at a nationally publicised occasion.


The Federation of West African Employers' Organisations.

Fourthly, DECP has decided to support the Federation of West African Employers’ Organisations (FWAEO) which is based in Togo. The FWEAO has been struggling of late, but it is now regaining its footing.
In July 2011, at a meeting facilitated by DECP and ILO/ITC, representatives from 14 countries benefitted from in-depth training on key issues such as developing a strategic plan, lobbying and advocacy, communication, attracting and keeping members and providing services to members. The delegates also used the meeting to reaffirm their commitment to the FWEAO and finalise their plans for its revitalisation.