The Observatory was created in 2002 with the support of the African Union, UNESCO and the Ford Foundation. OCPA was set up in Mozambique as an independent pan-African professional organisation with a view to monitor the evolution of culture and cultural policies in the region and to enhance their development and their integration in human development strategies through advocacy and promotion of information exchange, research, capacity building and cooperation at the regional and international level.
OCPA is registered in the Republic of Mozambique as an international Pan-African non-governmental organisation. According to its Statutes it is governed by a Steering Committee, composed of high-level specialists of the cultural policy field representing the various sub-regions of the African continent. The Committee defines the major orientations of the programme of the Observatory, approves its budget and supervises their implementation.
The programme is implemented under the leadership of the Director of the Observatory, by the OCPA Secreteriat (Maputo), having a small technical staff responsible for co-ordination and administration.
The Observatory strives to be self-reliant and sustainable by developing strategic networking and partnership with relevant bodies with a view of mobilizing human, financial, technical and material resources.
OCPA is a professional institution, which implements its strategic objectives, by articulating the priority needs of the African States and cultural life, its expected results and available resources, for offering policy-oriented and knowledge-based information, scientific criteria and operational services to the development of cultural policies in Africa combining the principles of quality and efficiency.