The Consumer Global Congress in Nairobi: Why Local Voices Matter
From the 6th to the 8th of December, Nairobi will play host to the prestigious Global Congress organized by Consumers International. This year’s theme, “Building a resilient future for consumers,” promises to be a critical gathering of marketplace leaders and consumer advocates from around the world. While the program is brimming with pertinent topics that concern consumers globally, the absence of local Consumer organizations, notably the Consumer Unit Trust Society (CUTS), Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK), Consumer International Network (CIN), and Consumer Downtown Association (CDA), among others, as speakers raises important questions about the inclusion of homegrown voices.
Global congresses like this provide a unique platform to discuss and shape policies that impact consumers in an ever-evolving world. They bring together experts, policymakers, and consumer advocates to delve into pressing issues such as the influence of technology, sustainable food systems, and mobile money services on consumer well-being. These discussions have far-reaching consequences, influencing not only international practices but also local policies and regulations.
However, there’s a crucial aspect that seems to be missing in the current program – the absence of heads of Kenyan Consumer organizations as key speakers. These organizations have tirelessly championed consumer rights in Kenya, representing the voices of the people who rely on the services and products offered in the local market. Their exclusion from speaking roles in the Congress is a missed opportunity to tap into their wealth of knowledge and experience.
Consumer organizations like CUTS, COFEK, CIN, and CDA have been on the front lines, advocating for consumer protection, fair trade practices, and ethical business conduct within Kenya. They have firsthand experience in the challenges that local consumers face and understand the nuances of the Kenyan market. As a result, they are uniquely positioned to provide homegrown solutions to the issues discussed at the Congress.
While expert opinions from around the world are invaluable, local context matters. Consumer concerns can vary significantly from one region to another. Therefore, inviting representatives from these Kenyan Consumer organizations to not merely participate but actively contribute as decision-makers could be a game-changer. It ensures that policies shaped at international forums are not only effective but also sensitive to the specific needs of the local consumers.
Including these homegrown Consumer bodies in the decision-making process is crucial for several reasons. First, it allows for the integration of local insights and solutions, which might be missed by international experts who lack firsthand experience of the Kenyan market. Second, it enhances the legitimacy of policies as they would be crafted with the active involvement of the organizations that are deeply rooted in the consumer protection landscape. Third, it empowers local voices, strengthening their capacity to influence the direction of consumer protection measures in Kenya.
In conclusion, while global congresses like the one organized by Consumers International provide a vital platform for discussing consumer protection issues, they must recognize the importance of including local Consumer organizations as integral decision-makers, not just guests. By doing so, they can harness the knowledge and expertise of those who have been at the forefront of safeguarding the rights and well-being of Kenyan consumers. Such inclusivity ensures that the policies and solutions developed at these congresses are not only effective but also sensitive to the unique challenges faced by local consumers.