Culture is at the beginning and the end of development
(Léopold Sédar Senghor)
Published on 2 December 2011
The ECOWAS Chairman and President of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on Friday 25th November 2011 in Abuja, called on Member States to look into the possibility of creating an ECOWAS Cultural Market that will encourage the free flow of creative products within the region for mutual economic benefits.
Opening the 4th Session of the ECOWAS Ministers of Culture in Abuja, the President, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, noted that the various activities of the cultural industries in the region have the potentials to boost socio-economic development and provide employment opportunities for millions of adults and youths, thus reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development if properly harnessed and managed.
To realize this goal, he said certain measures were imperative. These include provision of legal and institutional framework that will foster development of cultural products and their free movement to impact on the economy of Member States, as well as measures to promote the production and distribution of cultural products, and support for trade in cultural products within the region’s cultural common market.
This, according to the ECOWAS chair, is in line with the UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the diversity of Cultural Expression.
The President urged the ministers to study and use the 1992 Dakar Plan of Action adopted by the African Union, UNESCO and other partners, as well as other relevant documents as a guide for the development of the region’s cultural industries.
He commended ECOWAS for establishing the Copyright Observatory and the plan to set up an ECOWAS Copyright Hologram, and to transform piracy into a custom violation, adding however, that the latter initiative should be made part of the custom laws of member countries in order to achieve the desired impact.
Speaking on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency James Victor Gbeho, the Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop, said the Commission is of the belief that “vital to the attainment of cultural renaissance, development must be rooted in the culture of the people with core values in order to achieve the desired socio-economic emancipation and regional integration.”
She said it was on this basis that the Heads of State and Government adopted the ECOWAS Protocol on the Cultural Framework Agreement with the objective of promoting the cultural dimensions of development to create community awareness with a sense of belonging founded on historical, linguistic and geo-political links.
According to the Commissioner, the 4th regional Culture Ministerial conference under the theme : Cultural Industries and Development,” is aimed at advancing the development of creative cultural industries through the adoption of effective strategies and mechanisms that would translate them into actions for greater economic gains in order to improve the living standards of the populations.
Welcoming the delegates, Nigeria’s Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, urged ECOWAS Member States to harness the cultural endowments of the region to advance socio-economic development, trade and regional integration.
In his remarks, Dr. Joseph Ngu, UNESCO Country Representative in Nigeria described culture as a fundamental component of sustainable development and a powerful contributor to socio-economic stability, and environmental preservation and conservation.
“The intrinsic connection between culture and development,” he said, “is further demonstrated by the fact that no nation can truly make sustainable economic progress and technological advancement without taking into cognizance the peculiarity of its cultural environment.”
The UNESCO official commended the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission and the Nigerian Culture Minister for “their unwavering commitments to our joint programmes.”
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