Ethiopia: integrating culture into development

UNESCO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, launched the 2018 Global Report “Re|Shaping Cultural Policies” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 7 June. The event, gathering representatives from public and cultural institutions, presented the most recent policy efforts at the national and international levels to promote and protect the diversity of cultural expressions.

Culture is both an enabler and driver of sustainable development. Cultural and creative industries (CCIs) generate annual revenues of US$2.250 billion and global exports of over US$250 billion. Moreover, these sectors often make up around 10% of national GDP and employ more people aged 15−29 than any other sector.

Culture has also the potential to enable key development goals. The 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda mentions culture explicitly with relation to education, economic growth, sustainable cities, and consumption and production patterns. Deploying cultural resources can also help reduce inequalities within and among countries as well as achieve gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

As such, Ethiopia has increasingly integrated culture into their national sustainable development plans, notably through the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II: 2015-2020). The country’s CCIs are expected to contribute to not only economic growth and job creation, but also social cohesion nationally and image building internationally.

Supporting creativity

The launch event was opened by Dr. Yumiko Yokoziki, Director of UNESCO Addis Ababa Office, Mr Gabriel Asfaw, Advisor from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Ms. Annika Jayawardena, Minister Councellor of the Embassy of Sweden.

“It is our hope that all stakeholders will be able to use the Global Report as an advocacy and policy tool to strengthen the diversity of cultural expression at the national and international levels,” said Dr. Yumiko Yokoziki

“The Swedish government will continue its strong commitment to support the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and freedom of expression as encapsulated by the 2005 Convention,” underlined Ms. Annika Jayawardena

In her presentation of the Report, Avril Joffe, member of 2005 Convention Expert Facility, noted that Ethiopia had revised the existing law on broadcasting to acknowledge the significant role broadcasting services play in the political, economic and social development of the country by exercising constitutional rights such as freedom of expression or access to information.

The event provided the opportunity to also present and discuss Ethiopia’s latest Quadrennial Periodic Report (QPR). Every four years countries that have ratified the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions commit to submit a report on the ways the Convention has been implemented at the country-level.

The debates focused on improving the scarcity of cultural statistics in the country as well as institutionalizing a task force responsible for the country’s future periodic reporting processes of cultural policies in the framework of the 2005 Convention. Ethiopia’s latest QPR was submitted with the support of UNESCO in the framework of the project “Enhancing fundamental freedoms through the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions

In the margins of the launch event, a media diversity workshop led by Avril Joffe was also organized on 8 June gathering 15 media professionals and journalists. The workshop addressed topics related to media ownership, diversity of content, media freedom and its impact on protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions.