10 August, 2023, Kampala, Uganda – At the invitation of the Government of Uganda, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Southern Cooperation (OSC), H.E Manssour Bin Mussallam, spoke at the 2nd G-25 Africa Coffee Summit– of the top 25 coffee producing countries on the continent– held in Kampala, and called for collective action by countries in, and from the Global South to end unfair global trading and market practices in the coffee sector and other commodities, to ensure that resources from the Global South benefit their citizens.
Delivering his speech during the opening session on 8th August 2023, the Secretary-General emphasized that if coffee producing countries are to achieve the endogenous development and shared prosperity to which they aspire, the majority of value addition in the global coffee industry and other sectors, has to occur in the countries of origin.
Secretary-General Bin Mussallam noted that for example, in 2021 alone, the value of the Global Coffee trade, amounted to 36 billion dollars, yet “not only do our coffee producing and exporting countries only benefit from as little as 5 percent of the end market prices, but they are also exposed to the whims of the international commodity market setting the prices which keep fluctuating.”
He further noted that even well-intentioned initiatives to address this issue such as the Fairtrade Foundation, which has recently increased the Fairtrade minimum price per pound to 1.80 USD for washed Arabica and 1.20 USD for natural robusta, do not address the root causes of the problem:
“When the international commodity market prices for coffee plummet, this does not reduce the costs of coffee growers – 25 million of whom are smallholder farmers –, yet the minimum prices set by the Fairtrade Foundation are the same, everywhere, despite the fact that the costs of production and of living are, obviously, different in each of our countries,” Mr Bin Mussallam said.
He added that: “In other words, despite appearances, even initiatives that aim to ensure fairness in the profoundly inequitable global coffee trade are, by basing themselves on the whims of the international markets, nothing more than a price guarantee for retailers in the North, not an assurance of a living profit margin for producers in the South.”
The Secretary-General said: “This state of affairs is not only abysmal, but it is also intolerable. Our coffee producing countries, not only of Africa, but also of Latin America and the Caribbean, of the Arab World, and of Asia must come together in order to stabilise the markets for our farmers as well as set prices that are authentically fair. We have done it in the past, as countries, in the case of oil – we can do it, today, with coffee.”
Mr. Bin Mussallam underlined, in turn, the necessity of taking unified efforts to break the resource dependency cycle, enhance economic resiliency, and facilitate endogenous sustainable transformation in high-value added “strategic and sovereignty-enhancing sectors.”
The Secretary-General called for systemic South-South cooperation, unity and solidarity to achieve the common aspirations of the Global South for “multidimensional, endogenous, and sustainable development.”
He concluded by emphasising the necessity of mustering “the will” required of countries of the Global South “to transform our aspirations into action” and to “build the future that we want, and that Humanity deserves.”
Opening the Summit, the President of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Museveni called on African countries to invest in value addition for coffee in order to create jobs and enhance economic growth.
The President noted that there is need for African coffee producing countries to work collectively and stop exporting raw coffee beans and other commodities, if they are to change the trajectory that has kept the continent, impoverished.
During his visit to Uganda, Secretary-General Bin Mussallam paid a courtesy call on the former Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda. Dr Rugunda represented Uganda at the Summit in Djibouti in January 2020, at which the OSC was founded. The Secretary-General briefed the former Prime Minister about the progress made by the Organisation since its creation. Dr Rugunda appreciated the milestones registered by the OSC since its founding.
The Secretary-General also met the State Minister for Industry, Hon David Bahati with whom they discussed the role of high value industrialization in creating jobs, improving livelihoods and increasing incomes, and how the OSC can work with, and accompany Member States, in that journey.
Read the full speech of the Secretary-General here.