Annual Q&A: Chiyoge Sifa, regional director, ICA Africa

Seizing opportunities to promote and develop the co-operative business model in Africa

How was last year for ICA Africa?

The year turned out to be a bit better than 2021, presenting a number of opportunities that we were able to seize. Our members, the board, the staff, partners and other stakeholders made it a reality as we promote and develop the co-operative business model in Africa.

We were happy to return with physical meetings and conferences where the leadership of the ICA-Africa North Africa sub-regional office engaged with their counterparts in the northern sub-region on future engagement and collaborations that will promote co-operatives in North Africa and beyond. Mid-year, we hosted the 9th Technical Committee of the Africa Ministerial Cooperative Conference in Kenya.

This gave countries an opportunity to present their national progress reports as well as setting the agenda for the 13th Africa Ministerial Cooperative Conference (AMCCO). This was coupled with a thematic conference on Accelerating Co-operation among Co-operatives in the Post Covid-19 Era and ICA-Africa statutory meetings.

In October, we hosted the AMCCO in Egypt to provide a forum for co-operative policy makers in government and the co-operative movement to review performance and provide direction for development in Africa for the next three years. Organised around it were the ICA-Africa members’ forum, regional board meeting, the 1st African Cooperative Housing Training Program and 4th International Conference for Cooperative Housing.

In governance, we were happy to fill the position of youth representative in the ICA-Africa regional board. Abubakar Sadiq Labaran was elected the second president of ICA-Africa Youth Network in a by-election that took place during the Members’ Forum in October in Egypt. Notably, we were pleased by George Magutu’s (chair of Kenya Union of Savings & Credit Cooperatives and ICA-Africa vice president) victory, joining the ICA board as a member at large. He became the first African co-operator to be elected to this role.

With regards to youth, the plan we had for a Global Cooperative Entrepreneurs (GCE) scale-up in Kenya got a breakthrough with support from We Effect. Through this, qualified youth are going to receive training this December so they can realise their dreams through the co-operative business model.

In terms of research, in collaboration with the OCDC International Cooperative Research Group, we launched the dissemination cycle of collaborative research for the co-operative resilience programme at the Africa policy forum on Co-operative Resilience: What the Evidence Suggests.

The year also marked the launch of our new strategic plan for the next decade. The Africa Cooperative Development Strategy 2023 – 2033, with the theme One Cooperative – One Africa presenting the path forward for co-operative development in Africa.

What are your hopes for the future?

It’s our hope that 2023 will present more opportunities for growth for our co-operative movement. Our focus next year will be to:

• Have a meeting with government officials on the 10th Technical Committee of the Africa Ministerial Cooperative Conference so we can further unpack and discuss the guidelines of the AMCCO declaration.
• Further the discussions on the sub-regional offices –more specifically, with the south, west and central sub-regions.
• Member engagement activities, which will include a look at how we will implement the new strategy together. One of these activities will be the 16th Regional Assembly.
• Cast our nets wider to bring on board more co-operative development partners.