In recent years, the culture sector in Ethiopia has increasingly been seen as a central element for the country’s development, notably through the inclusion of culture within Ethiopia's second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II: 2015-2020). The country’s cultural industries are expected to contribute to not only economic growth, job creation, but also social cohesion nationally and image-building internationally.
Ethiopians are eager to tell their stories – stories about contemporary Ethiopia. Ethio-jazz, Ethiopian films, dance/circus, contemporary arts, design are all making a buzz while art events such as the Addis International Film Festival are becoming increasingly recognized at the international level. Domestic demands for Ethiopian cultural goods and services are also on the rise.
Some important challenges remain, however, with the absence of baseline data and tangible statistical information on the culture and creative industries, as well as the need to improve the social status of artists. In this context, this capacity-building action in Ethiopia provides a timely occasion to map the state of affairs of Ethiopia's cultural sector, create a policy dialogue between the government and civil society, including artists, as well as promote the visibility of Ethiopian cultural industries through participatory data collection and information sharing nationally and internationally.
Jointly organized between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia and UNESCO Addis Ababa on 4 November 2015, the consultation meeting gathered together 70 representatives of government ministries and civil society organizations. The participants were split into five sectoral groups: visual arts and design broadcasting/publishing, performing arts, music, audio visual to discuss the state of affairs of their respective sectors. Common issues such as high custom duty on imported equipment or materials indispensable for artistic creation, the issue of licensing, training and education were discussed in detail. This consultation served as a networking opportunity, connecting stakeholders of arts and culture of Ethiopia with each other.
The two international experts facilitated the training workshop from 1-3 December 2015. The Ethiopian national team included 17 members from the Ministries of Culture and Tourism; Foreign Affairs; Trade; Social Affairs and Labour; Education; Government Communication Affairs; the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation; the National Statistics; the National Committee on Copyright; the Ethiopian National Theatre; Addis Ababa University; the Ethiopian Tourist Media Forum; and representatives of professional associations of film, writers and design. The workshop allowed the national team to learn about the objectives and guiding principles of the 2005 Convention, the importance of policy monitoring, and their own role as representatives of government/institutions/associations in a participatory monitoring process. It also created space for open dialogue between the Ministry of Culture and key cultural actors for the first time.
Since the end of the workshop in December 2015, the national team collected relevant data and information by reaching out to larger stakeholder groups. It met on a regular basis and drafted the periodic report under the guidance of the international experts. Drafting workshops were organized between 24-15 May 2016 and 21-23 September in Addis Abba. The workshops helped galvanize members of the national team to take ownership of the periodic reporting process and create an inclusive working relationship based on mutual respect. Held on 24 November 2016 in Addis Ababa, the public presentation of the periodic report brought together around 22 stakeholders from civil society and the government, providing an opportunity to give their feedback to the report. After feedback were integrated, the report was submitted to UNESCO on 12 December 2016