Key figures

Number of cooperatives per sector
Employees and members per sector
Key figures
Key figures

Research overview


Responding to challenges and existing knowledge gaps facing the cooperative movement, this mapping research seeks to provide exhaustive information on cooperatives around the world.

This is achieved through a process jointly conducted by the ICA and its four regional offices – Cooperatives of the Americas, Cooperatives Europe, ICA Africa, and ICA Asia-Pacific – using a common methodology, designed with the support of external experts from the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse).

Each office collected the input of ICA members present in the countries within its geographic area, by using a common questionnaire, and completing it with relevant national statistics, in order to obtain a picture of the national situation. As a result, the data above is collected following two strategies: 1) a survey targeting ICA cooperative members 2) collecting national statistics already available in the country. The numbers above provide aggregated data from ICA members on the number of cooperatives, as well as the number of cooperative employees and memberships in the country. More methodological information is available in the full report. In Zambia, the data is collected for the reference year 2019.

Mapping out cooperatives in each country provides a more precise picture of the cooperative context at national and regional levels, enhances the movement's visibility, networking, partnerships opportunities, as well as advocacy, and empowers cooperators by providing tools for positive change.

This webpage presents a snapshot of the research results for Zambia. For more information and the full research results, you can download the highlights and the report by clicking on the links above.




The first cooperative in Zambia was formed in 1914. However, the cooperative movement in Zambia only gathered momentum in 1948 when the Department of Cooperatives, Cooperatives Ordinance and Registrar of Cooperatives were instituted.

Currently, the total number of registered cooperatives in Zambia is 9,498 and approximately 1,578,340 members as of 2019 according to the Department of Cooperative Societies (Registrar). The majority of the registered cooperatives are in the agricultural sector



The data below was gathered through compiling the replies of a secondary cooperative; National Savings and Credit Cooperative Union (NSSCU), originated in 1969.

It is a group of credit unions aimed at serving both the rural and urban employee and non-employee population.

Legal framework

Legal framework


The legal framework analysis aims to provide general knowledge of the national cooperative legislation and of its main characteristics and contents, with particular regard to those aspects of regulation regarding the identity of cooperatives and its distinction from other types of business organisations, notably the for-profit shareholder corporation.

It aims to evaluate whether the national legislation in place supports or hampers the development of cooperatives, and is therefore “cooperative friendly” or not, and the degree to which it may be considered so, also in comparison to the legislation in force in other countries of the ICA region, or at the supranational level.

In addition, the research aims to provide recommendations for eventual renewal of the legal frameworks in place in order to understand what changes in the current legislation would be necessary to improve its degree of “cooperative friendliness”, which is to say, to make the legislation more favourable to cooperatives, also in consideration of their specific identity. This webpage presents a snapshot of the legal framework analysis results for Zambia.



In Zambia, the Cooperative Societies Act No. 63 of 1970 and the cooperative rules of 1972 are the legal instruments of government for management of the cooperative sector in Zambia

The cooperative Act and rules premise the operational context for all the cooperatives in Zambia from formation to liquidation.


Cooperative friendliness

From the view of the national experts, the cooperative law in Zambia is cooperative friendly by content and the world-wide nature of the cooperative approach epitomized in ICA has provided bounds in domestication of the cooperative law in Zambia.

However, the enforcement compliance levels to the provision of the act can and has created barrier effects. The registration of cooperatives formed under the FISP by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry undermines the essence of the cooperative law as some of these cooperatives do not have any obligation to the cooperative spirit other than accessing government resources. It also relegates the cooperative voluntary membership, collective ownership and joint benefit.


Key recommendations for improvement

There is need for a number of adjustments in the enforcement of the cooperative law. These include: establishment of a robust monitoring strategy, periodic review of the cooperative act, encourage integration and heighten community sensitization.



A robust monitoring strategy for compliance to the cooperative law provisions will enhance capacity in identification of whatever short comings the law may have as a consequence of either change in member needs or another legal jurisdiction government may be implementing. Periodic review is essential to sustain its friendliness towards cooperative development.


The legal frameworks analysis is a tool developed under the ICA-EU Partnership #coops4dev. It is an overview of the national legal frameworks at the time of writing. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the ICA, nor does a reference to any specific content constitute an explicit endorsement or recommendation by the ICA. 


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