The Coordination Committee for Development of African Handicraft (CODEPA) Conference has commenced this Wednesday in Bulawayo with Zimbabwe warming up to take over the presidency of the continental grouping which seeks to preserve the African culture through art.

Representatives of African states have started arriving and 17 of the 27 member countries of CODEPA ministers are expected to witness the continental grouping’s first Vice President, who is Zimbabwe’s Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, taking the presidency of the organ this Friday.

The Deputy Minister of SMEs and Cooperative Development, Mr Noveti Muponora, who welcomed delegates on behalf of the ministry, said the meeting provides a conducive environment for people in the handcraft industry to decide on how best they can improve their growing businesses.

In 2016, Zimbabwe’s SMEs sector raked in around US$3,034 million in export receipts from US$900 000 realized in 2009 as the country adopted a raft of measures to help the SMEs sector.

“Other African countries can learn a lot from how Ghana has managed to develop its handicraft industry as it has adopted a decentralisation approach which have seen the sector hitting a US$2,4 billion dollar jackpot in export receipts in the sector last year alone,” said Ghana’s Director of Handicrafts National Commission on Culture, Mr William Baoteng.

The 3-day CODEPA conference is running under the theme: ‘The National, Sub-regional and Continental Policies of Development and Promotion of African Handicrafts: Appraisal and Perspective.’