ZVISHAVANE - A total of 27 African countries that are members of the Coordinating Committee for Development and Promotion of African Handicraft (Codepa) held their 9th conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) grounds in Bulawayo.
The conference ran under the theme 'The national, subnational and continental policies for development and promotion of handicrafts in Codepa member states: appraisal and perspective'.
Codepa started in 1988 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and its objective is to establish a permanent and close co-operation between the African member countries, to conduct reflections and take actions aimed at improving the craftsmen's daily life and guaranteeing a better future to African craftsmen.
Weavers, fashion designers, carpenters, wood carvers panel beaters among other handcrafters were part of the conference exhibiting their products.
The conference facilitates interaction between artistes and their ministers so as to promote handcraft as small to medium enterprise.
Each country had a representative who presented on lived experiences, with challenges highlighted being mainly about the welfare of handcrafters and lack of necessary support.
Codepa chairperson Saluman diara Suba, who is a Cote d'Ivoire national, stated that despite existing challenges in the sector, the future was bright.
"The problem we have is of mobilising resources. However, the African Bank assured to give support to handcrafters in African countries. Also as member countries of Codepa, you should be committed in paying affiliate fees to the organisation," said diara Suba.
Small and Medium Enterprises Minister in Zimbabwe, Sithembiso Nyoni urged handcrafters to unite and form cooperatives so as to come up with quality and best products.
Codepa member countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d'lvoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Central Africa, DRC, Chad, Togo and Zimbabwe.
Observers of the conference were from Egypt, Gambia, Sudan, Zambia and Nigeria.local