Q&As for 2022: Chiyoge B Sifa, ICA regional director for Africa

‘Despite a difficult 12 months in the Africa region, there has been a lot that we can celebrate’

 How has last year been for your sector?

 It has been a challenging year for our members and especially the thousands who work in frontline services. We have experienced tough times, but collectively we have been able to respond so that we accomplish what we had planned for this year. Despite a difficult 12 months in the Africa region, there has been a lot that we can celebrate. Some of the important milestones include: 

Events: We held regional events such as the Health Cooperative Stakeholders Meeting with our members and other stakeholders in DR Congo, as well as webinars and intergovernmental consultations. 

Training: As part of capacity building and training targeting members, we conducted training on issues such as Functioning and Advocacy towards European Union Delegations (EUDs), business communication and empowering rural women to improve their leadership and business management in Asia and Africa.

Research: In partnerships with global organisations such as the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the ICA and US Overseas Cooperative Development Council, we carried out research on issues such as youth, the environment, the formalisation of work and the resilience of small-scale farmers. 

Youth: We continued to engage the youth in the region through different platforms, particularly through engaging with the Global Cooperative Entrepreneurs (GCE) ambassadors and Fairtrade Africa.

Gender: Together with the regional gender committee and the ICA Gender Equality Committee, we showcased the important role of co-operatives regarding women in leadership for a just recovery in Africa.

Legislation: We continued with follow-ups with the Pan African Parliament’s Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs on the proposed Africa Cooperative Model Law, by making a presentation on the legal basis for a model law on co-operatives in Africa.

Housing: The opening of the Sub-regional and the African Organization of Housing Cooperatives offices in Maadi, Egypt, was a vital step in realisation of operationalisation of ICA-Africa sub-regional offices in the continent (North, South, Central, East and West).

Democracy: We had the regional board elections during the 15th Regional Assembly that saw a smooth transition of leadership. Chief Ayeola Tajudeen Oriyomi from the Cooperative Federation of Nigeria (CFN) was elected as ICA-Africa’s 3rd president, taking over from Mr Japheth Mogomere who voluntarily retired after serving in the ICA-Africa regional board for 13 years. 

 What are your hopes for the future?

Having a new regional board in place after the elections in October and the ICA 2020-2030 Strategic Plan – A People-Centred Path to a Second Cooperative Decade – we are now going to work toward our regional strategic plan too. We have already started follow-ups on the operationalisation of the sub-regional office in Egypt and we look forward to continuing with the same conversations with our members in south and west Africa too.  

We look forward to more co-operation and collaboration on co-operative development, and to promoting and disseminating our research outcomes so that they are put to use. We also hope to resume our in-person regional conferences more, and so we are very much looking forward to the Africa Ministerial Cooperative Conference.