This week, on the sidelines of the 33rd Assembly of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 12 heads of state heeded the call by Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who is also AU Leader for Arts, Culture and Heritage, to act as co-champions in promoting the creative and cultural industries in Africa.
Upon his appointment as AU Leader for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Keïta established a presidential level structure to carry out his mission.To this end, he extended an invitation to 12 heads of state to join him in a council of the peers.
The 12, from the five regions of the continent, are:
l President of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca;
l President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo;
l President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari;
l President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo;
l President of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso;
l President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshiseked;
l Kingdom of Morocco, His Majesty Mohamed VI;
l President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi;
l President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta;
l President of Ethiopia, Mrs Sahle-Work Zewde;
l President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa; and
l President of Namibia, Hage Geingob.
The mandate of the council is to conceive a strategy for the creative and cultural industries’ development and advance advocacy, as well as facilitation at the sub-regional level.
The heads of state committed to elevating culture, arts and adopted a draft resolution that will be tabled, with a view to declaring 2021 as the year of culture.
Other issues the leaders agreed to include:
l Advocating for the ratification of the Charter for the African Cultural Renaissance;
l Mobilisation of political and financial support of the member states for the African World Heritage Fund;
l Promotion of culture as a tool for peace building;
l Develop creative industries generating economic development and outreach;
l Preserve and develop African languages as a vehicle of communication, knowledge and culture; and
l Speeding up return of cultural assets.