Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
Preparations for the Co-ordinating Committee for the Development and Promotion of African Handicrafts (Codepa) conference, which is being hosted by Zimbabwe at the end of this month, are at an advanced stage, with more than 19 countries having confirmed their participation.
The conference, which will be held from June 21 to June 23 at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, is expected to be attended by representatives from the 26-member countries.
Briefing the media on the state of preparedness, Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni yesterday said the conference would precede Zimbabwe’s assumption of the Codepa presidency.
“Ministers in charge of development of handicrafts in Codepa member states meet annually to deliberate and make decisions towards the development and promotion of handicrafts in Africa,” she said. “We are hoping that we will recruit more countries.
“This year’s event will be attended by more than by 250 delegates from member states of Codepa, the secretariat and international institutions with interests in the development.”
Countries that have confirmed their participation include Burkina Faso, Burundi, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Cameroon, Madagascar, Togo and Gabon.
“Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana have indicated they will come,” said Minister Nyoni. “There will also be 10 African Handicraft institutions and more than 50 local handicraft exhibitors. Local representatives from provinces will also attend.
“Zimbabwe will have the opportunity to exhibit a wide range of our handicrafts and we hope some artistes including musicians will be present at the dinner on the 23rd.”
Codepa has 26 African member States and is meant to promote the development and marketing of handicraft.
Minister Nyoni is the vice-president of the organisation and will be assuming the presidency at the conference in Bulawayo.