Building knowledge and expertise on the 2005 Convention in Ethiopia

The first in a series of 12 training programs to build knowledge and skills of professionals working on the 2005 Conventon on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions kicked off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 4th November 2015.  Funded by the Swedish Government, the project,  "Enhancing fundamental freedoms through the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions", will run from 2015 to 2017.

A consultation meeting held at the Hall of the National Library and Archives in Addis Ababa, brought together about 70 stakeholders of the 2005 Convention, including representatives of various government ministries, civil society organizations including professional associations (film, music, performing arts, broadcasting/publishing, visual art), musicians and artists, cultural professionals and media professionals. The meeting provided creative professionals with a platform for dialogue on cultural policies. As a result, some participants are thinking of starting professional associations to organize themselves and help bring a collective voice for improving policies.  The trainings will also strengthen the monitoring and reporting capacities of both governmental and civils society actors to participate in data collection, indicator-building and policy monitoring action, leading to the preparation of quadrennial periodic reports due every four years by Parties to the Convention. Ethiopia ratified the 2005 Convention in September 2008.

The meeting was opened by Mr Tesfaye Yimer (focal point for the project from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism), representative of the State Minister for Culture and Tourism. He stated that Ethiopia's cultural policy adopted in 1990 has been revised and is awaiting  approval in the near future. He emphasized that this consultation meeting would help provide a base for the implementation of the revised cultural policy in the future.

Ms Avril Joffe (Professor, Centre for Cultural Policy and Management, Wits School of Arts, South Africa), presented the global capacity-building strategy of the 2005 Convention and the capacity-building action to be implemented in Ethiopia over the coming months. She is one of the two international experts (together with Andreas Wiesand, Executive director of the European Institute for Comparative Cultural Research, Germany) selected from UNESCO’s Expert Facility  to accompany Ethiopia through the process of capacity-building activities aimed at strengthening institutional capacity and skills of people working in this field including, governmental and civil society actors to monitor and report on the diversity of cultural expressions. 

Ms Joffe stated that the consultation meeting would be followed by a three-day national workshop to be organized in Ethiopia in December 2015. The workshop would provide training to a national team of about 20 governmental and civil society stakeholders on various aspects of the 2005 Convention, especially the importance of policy monitoring and dialogue. Periodic reporting on progress made on the implementation of the 2005 Convention is a key aspect of the project to help track its contribution towards the development of the cultural and creative industries in Ethiopia, with the next round of reports to be submitted to UNESCO by April 2016.

During the sessions in Addis Ababa this week, the participants were split into five sectoral groups; visual arts and design, broadcasting/publishing, performing arts, music, audio visual.

The groups first discussed the state of affairs of their respective sectors and then discussed questions such as; what is the state of the sector in question in Ethiopia? What is the current policy environment of the sector in question in Ethiopia? What are  the capacity-building/education/training needs of the sector in question in Ethiopia? What are successes and challenges of the sector in question in Ethiopia and how can “youth” be addressed in the sector in question in Ethiopia?

At the end of the group discussion, each group presented the deliberation of their discussion at the plenary session.The consultation meeting provided all participants with an opportunity to meet their colleagues to start networking/organizing themselves and to have an open dialogue with the government. Common issues such as  taxation when  importing equipment or materials that are indispensable for artistic creation, the issue of licensing, training and education were discussed in detail. Participants also made the point that the cultural sector has enormous potential to contribute to the image building of and transformation of Ethiopia.

The next follow up activity in Addis will be the three-day capacity-building workshop in December 2015.

Ethiopia has already made great strides in advancing in supporting creative industries and their involvement in this project shows their commitment to promoting and improving cultural governance. We are also grateful to SIDA for funding this project which will help build and improve skills and knowledge on the 2005 Convention so that it can be used as a basis to work towards creating peaceful and sustainable societies.

Danielle Cliche, Secretary of the 2005 Convention,  UNESCO, said.

The other countries to benefit from the project are Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Colombia, Indonesia, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.