INTERVIEW - Coulibaly Salimata Diarra, President of the Consumers Association of Mali (ASCOMA) - Ouagadougou, nov. 2018

"The ECOWAS legal framework is a major device to boost consumer protection in the region"


Sexagenarian, Mrs. Coulibaly Salimata Diarra carries the dreams of the first Consumers Association in Mali, ASCOMA. Present at the workshop in Ouagadougou initiated and organized by the WAQSP, she shares in this exclusive interview, the merits of this regional meeting that now gives the protection of consumers in the regional area a legal framework carried by ECOWAS. She also mentions other associations' expectations to better protect consumers in terms of good quality consumer products.


WAQSP: Introduce yourself


Pdte ASCOMA: I am Mrs. Coulibaly Salimata Diarra, President of ASCOMA which is the first association of its kind in Mali since 1991.


What is the state or level of the struggle for defense and consumer protection in Mali?


In Mali, the fight for defense and consumer protection is ahead of many countries. Today we have a Consumer Protection Law that has been established with our strong involvement. As an association, we first made a draft project that was amended, then examined in the National Assembly and supported by the Minister of Trade who is our minister. This law is therefore adopted to our great satisfaction and the regulation is also available. Still around this law, a sensitizing program has been developed to cross the interior of the country to explain the content of the law, and allow everyone to appropriate it. Thus, people everywhere will know their role to boost the issue of consumption and consumer protection by contributing obviously to ensure the harmonious and sustainable development of all in connection with the real needs of the population. You agree with me that if people are armed and well informed about their consumer rights, there will be less abuse. And if the abuse is reduced, well-being will be developed and the country will move forward.


Today, there is a dynamic underway and thanks to the WAQSP funded by the EU and implemented by UNIDO, it was decided to set up an ECOWAS legal framework favorable to the activities of consumer associations in the field. . How do you appreciate this initiative?


We highly appreciate this initiative. In fact, we expected it because for a long time, we, ECOWAS Consumers' Associations, made sparse efforts which do not always make it possible to reach the expected results and in time. Today, we are very happy to know that the legal framework is there. The related documents have just been adopted unanimously by the Consumer Associations represented. It will now be a frame of reference that we will appropriate, and make it an advocacy tool for ECOWAS, our Governors and even other institutions to truly advance in our Annual Work Plan. You can guess the great joy that fills me. With this regional legal framework, we can carry out our activities: verify, denounce, fight, defend and protect consumers in our respective countries and in return, our leaders will be obliged to take our concerns into account. I hope that we, together (Consumers Associations), can work to encourage our leaders to accompany us in this vast project of consumer protection for a more secure ECOWAS area in terms of quality products.


How will this legal framework and these documents adopted be useful for you, consumer associations in the ECOWAS region, to carry out your activities?


First! Once back in Mali, we will report on the progress made here in Ouagadougou through the implementation of this new legal framework and the adoption of the texts that equip and strengthen the Associations of consumers in the region. Next, together with the members, we will collegially develop ideas that flow from these advances at the regional level. We may, perhaps, decide to go to see the President of the Republic, or the elected representatives of the National Assembly to find the ideal ways and means so that this ongoing process does not stop. We will also reflect on how we can be accompanied by other civil society organizations because only we will not be able to do everything. It's a block and a unit of action that we can easily move the lines and give strength to our defense and consumer protection activities in the field. Once again, I think that the legal framework of ECOWAS is a major device to encourage and that will boost the defense and consumer protection in the region.


To circumvent the scattered struggles of organizations, for example, will a Federation of Consumers' Associations in the ECOWAS region not be able to better convey your ambitions and the expectations of consumers?


Absolutely! We have to go. We have been slow because sometimes we start, but there are involuntary cuts. We had made great strides at one point, but something still cut the grass under our feet. Today, the opportunity is there and we must not hesitate. As we say at home in Bambara: "Alone, we are nothing, it is together we are strong." We are complementary, nobody knows everything. So together, ideas federate; the actions are built and the advancements are visible within the framework of a sustainable, harmonious development and in the general interest.


In addition to this ECOWAS legal framework now available, do you still have any expectations towards the stakeholders of the WAQSP for the accomplishment of your activities?


I believe that we still have a great need from UNIDO to accompany us in a number of ways and means. But above all, we need a determination from ECOWAS so that the current and momentum that we have just taken in Ouagadougou, as part of this workshop dedicated to the region's consumer associations, no longer fades. That we can really move towards something very solid for West Africa in terms of the legal framework, in terms of the organization of civil society to accompany the Governors; because everyone has roles and everyone has limits. So together, playing on the different levers, we can raise mountains. And that's what I wish for West Africa as soon as possible with determination.

This program is funded by the European Union;

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Commision of the European Union

 This program is implemented by UNIDO

Copyright - 2016 - West Africa Quality System Programme