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November 20 2014

ACEC2014: African Solutions for Africa’s Creative Sector

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As the African Creative Economy Conference wrapped up on Saturday November 15th, the attendees celebrated artistic rights, freedom of creative expression and a collaborative approach in finding practical African solutions for the cultural sector.

Delegates and speakers reasserted Arterial Network’s fundamental adages: there will be no culture without freedom, and no development without culture!


On Thursday the 13th, the ACEC was dedicated to an analysis of the state of the creative industries in Africa, looking into the Millennium Development Goals and how cultural operators can join forces with various stakeholders to ensure culture’s recognition in the post-2015 global agenda.


The Moroccan Minister of Culture, Amine Sbihi, one of the official partners of the conference, reminded the audience of the crucial contribution culture plays in human development, in creating jobs and sustaining wealth. “Africa, in spite of its cultural richness and diversity, has failed in integrating culture in its overall political programmes. An event like the ACEC sets a dynamic and unprecedented example for the entire sector of Africa.”


Friday the 14th, cultural leaders, artistic trend-setters and leading entrepreneurs took the stage. Their success stories are testimonies to the various African contexts in which they operate, and speak to the difficulties and opportunities available for artists throughout the continent. 


The many participants from around the globe were inspired with stories of creative accomplishments from across the continent and the Global South. Some of these frontrunners included: Alphadi (Niger) one of Africa's most successful fashion designer, nicknamed “ the Desert Magician”, Aida Muluneh (Ehthiopia), founder of the Addis Foto Fest and a multiple award winner for her photography, Didier Awadi (Senegal), uncontestably the most visible rap figure of Francophone Africa and Alayne Reesberg (South Africa), responsible for the implementation of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014.


On Saturday 15th of November, Christine Merkel, Head of the Division of Culture, Memory of the World of the German Commission for UNESCO, chaired a riveting session on the pragmatic learnings and solutions that arts practitioners can take from Global South experiences, Latin America and South East Asia. Merkel stressed how intertwined the creative economy is to the broader economy, and emphasized the need to see more private-public partnerships, as civil society already shows excellent results where it collaborates with the private sector.


Overall, this 4th edition of the ACEC hosted practitioners, academics, policymakers and stakeholders from more than 30 African countries and the five continents, with

delegates taking part in three days of intense debate, inspiring workshops and critical networking opportunities.

As an on-going resource to promote these achievements, the newly launched Arterial Network website, is of vital importance for the African creative sector. The extensive resources and toolkits available, for free, on the website is substantial. 


Additionally, Artwatch Africa, one of Arterial Network’s flagship projects, launched an online Essay Competition at the ACEC2014 on Artistic Rights and Freedom of Speech.  Artwatch Africa aims to assert, promote and defend artist rights and freedom of creative expression through training, providing of resources and communication.


All presentations from ACEC2014 will be made available shortly at


Arterial Network 4th African Creative Economy conference was supported by the Moroccan Minister of Culture, the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Doen Foundation and other valued partners.




Arterial Network is a dynamic network of artists, cultural activists, creative enterprises, cultural NGOs and institutions engaged in the creative sector in more than 40 countries across the African continent. The vision of Arterial Network is of a vibrant, dynamic and sustainable African creative civil society sector engaged in qualitative practice in the arts in their own right, as well as in a manner that contributes to development, to human rights and democracy, and to the eradication of poverty on the African continent.






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