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July 28 2016

Ethiopia | Arterial Network at the African Union’s STC-YCS2 June 2016

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From the 13th to the 17th of June 2016, the African Union’s 2nd Ordinary Session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sports (STC-YCS2) was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. William Codjo, Secretary General of Arterial Network, was invited to attend the session that provided a common platform for arts and cultural practitioners and government ministers from AU member states to share knowledge and review progress on the implementation of the decisions made during the STC-YCS1 that sought to promote the establishment of synergies between the three sectors in question. The theme for the session was ‘African Year Of Human Rights: Promoting Ethics And Cultural Diversity as an Essential Right for the People of Africa’ which echoes overall theme of the African Union for 2016 which is the ‘African Year of Human Rights, with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.’

The STC-YCS2 was in line with the ambitions set out in the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance that was adopted by the 6th Assembly of the AU held in Khartoum in January 2016 and serves as the guiding policy tool for the promotion of the cultural and heritage sector in Africa. So far, the Charter has been signed by 31 AU Member States, but only ratified by eight of them which a poor show of united support for development in the Cultural sector. For this reason, the session aimed to remind members of the importance of the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance. The AU has stated unequivocally that, “It is crucial that the continental cultural policies stated are ratified, popularised and implemented to enhance sustainable economic growth and the provision of productive employment, decent work for the youth and women of the continent. The development of the youth creativity through up scaling of arts education is a prerequisite for this achievement.”

Similarly, participants were reminded of Aspiration Five of the AU Agenda 2063 that addresses cultural issues by calling for: “An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics; inculcating the spirit of Pan-Africanism; tapping Africa’s rich heritage and culture to ensure that the creative arts are major contributors to Africa’s growth and transformation.”

“Attending the STC-YCS2 was a good opportunity for me (on behalf of Arterial Network) to meet with important cultural actors to discuss the problems that the sector faces in Africa,” said William Codjo. “From our perspective, we could contribute more to the AU agenda by providing counsel on cultural and creative economy issues in order to provide support to implement dynamic cultural policies and develop sustainable infrastructure at the level of local government through our network. We would also like to contribute more to the widespread adoption of freedom of expression and artist rights in cultural policies across the continent.”

One of the unifying elements to come from the session has been the popular support for the development of the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA). In his support speech, Official of Culture and Communication from Senegal, Remi Sagna said, “AFRIMA cannot come at a better time than this. With our support, AFRIMA will serve the vacuum to promote African music and realness as well as encouraging our youth to be the best.” This follows on from the Banjul +10 Youth Summit in The Gambia in May 2016 that called for particular focus on tackling the challenges of the youth. “This is particularly exciting to us as we are also working to develop pools of excellence through promoting the youth in cultural activities across five regions which will be officially announced in the coming months,” said Codjo. “Through developing market access and a raised consciousness around African identity and artistic excellence, the agendas of youth and cultural development can be simultaneously advanced.”

Photo: William Codjo (right) at the African Union’s 2nd Ordinary Session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sports (STC-YCS2) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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