End of year Q&A: Chiyoge Sifa, regional director, ICA Africa

The regional office of the International Cooperative Alliance looks forward to ‘continued collaboration and sustainable development across the continent’

 How has the last year been for your organisation?

As we bid farewell to 2023, a year of dynamic engagement and strategic collaboration, ICA-Africa stands proud of the milestones achieved in promoting co-operative values and fostering sustainable development across the continent. Let’s take a comprehensive look at our journey throughout the year.

At the forefront of our achievements was the momentous signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of Botswana, officially establishing the new ICA-Africa Southern Africa office. The establishment of this sub-regional office stands as a monumental achievement, symbolising a commitment to enhancing our presence, visibility, and impact in Southern Africa. May saw the hosting of the 10th Technical Committee of the Africa Ministerial Cooperative Conference (TCAMCCO) which brought together government representatives, co-operative leaders, and stakeholders under the theme Transforming Cooperatives for a Stronger Africa. Discussions centred on reimagining the co-operative identity and sustaining co-operation through networks, trade, partnerships, financial inclusion, and professionalism.

A significant highlight of ICA-Africa’s endeavours in 2023 was the proactive engagement in legislative developments, particularly the Model Law consultations. In collaboration with the Permanent Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs of the Pan-African Parliament, we held consultations on the draft Model Law on Cooperatives in Africa. This marked a pivotal moment in shaping Africa’s co-operative landscape. Stakeholders shared valuable insights and proposals, culminating in a final communique outlining collaborative efforts and outcomes.

Our participation in international forums, such as the ACP-EU follow-up committee meetings and the Global Social and Solidarity Economy Forum (GSEF), showcased the global relevance and impact of the African co-operative movement. These platforms not only facilitated dialogue but also positioned African co-operatives as crucial contributors to global economic and social agendas.

In November, we successfully convened the 16th Africa Regional Assembly and Conference, focusing on the theme Cooperatives for a Sustainable Africa. This event served as a vibrant platform for co-operative leaders, stakeholders, and enthusiasts to collaboratively explore and strategise initiatives aimed at fostering sustainability across the continent. Recognising the pivotal role of youth in the co-operative movement, we dedicated significant efforts to youth empowerment in 2023. We held a dynamic youth network side event and training on worker co-operatives in November aimed to equip the youth with a comprehensive understanding of the co-operative model.

 What are your expectations for 2024?

 It’s our hope that 2024 will present more opportunities for growth for our co-operative movement. Our focus for the coming year includes:

  • A mid-term review of the Africa Ministerial Cooperative Conference in Lesotho
  • The launch of the Cooperative Desk at the
    African Union
  • The ratification of the Model Law on Cooperative Development in Africa
  • The launch of the Norges Vel programmes in Tanzania and Mozambique
  • The launch of the ICA-EU Framework Partnership Programme.

These plans underscore ICA-Africa’s dedication to continued collaboration and sustainable development across the continent, building on the successes and lessons learnt in 2023.

Click here for more Q&As from our annual review