Uganda’s Consul General in Guangzhou Ambassador Solomon Rutega has been elected secretary general of the Inter-African Coffee Organization (IACO), the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) announced in a Tuesday statement.
The fifty-two-year-old diplomat was elected at the 60th General Assembly of IACO held virtually from November 17 -20 in Accra, Ghana.
He succeeds Fredrick Kawuma another Ugandan who has been at the helm of the continental coffee body for the last 8 years.
“This is a big milestone for Uganda and the coffee sector in particular.
Rutega was part of the pioneering team that led to the establishment of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) in 1991 and among his many achievements he established the first African coffee joint venture in China,” Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the managing director of UCDA was quoted as saying in the statement.
“With this new appointment and given his wealth of experience and networks in promoting and marketing Ugandan coffee in China and the Asia Pacific region, we have a very strong ally at IACO.”
Solomon Rutega, who holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University, has been an active participant in the coffee sector for the last 29 years.
He served as Uganda’s representative to the joint venture partnership in promoting and marketing Uganda’s value-added coffee in China and was also part of the pioneering team that led to the establishment of the East African Fine Coffees Association, now the Africa Fine Coffees Association.
As incoming secretary general, his vision for IACO is hinged on five pillars: Mobilizing Financial Support and Partnerships with new institutions including Asia Development Bank (ADB), China Africa Development Fund (CADFUND), Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and Africa Export-Import Bank; Opening new markets for African coffees in emerging consuming countries in Maghreb, Middle East, Asia Pacific regions and Russia; Completion of the construction of the IACO Headquarters in Abidjan; Establishment of private sector partnerships and alliances with sports associations; and Consolidating and building on the vision and legacy of the former secretary general.
“We will endeavor to open new markets for African Coffees. For instance, China is currently ranked the second largest economy in the world combined with a population of 1.4 billion people. Despite the large population, the per capita coffee consumption is still low at 5 cups per annum, however, coffee consumption is growing at 15% per annum and this offers a huge opportunity for African Coffees,” Amb. Rutega said, according to the statement.
“We will ensure that coffees from IACO Member States are promoted aggressively but, more importantly, we will encourage and support African producers to establish new partnerships and provide market access for their coffees in these regions.”