Selam and Sida sign a 5-year agreement for Connect for Culture Africa project

Skärmavbild 2022-12-15 kl. 17.50.29 torsdag 15 december 2022 / / Tags:

The Swedish government through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency Sida has inked a five-year agreement with Selam for a new regional project called Connect for Culture Africa, which seeks to popularise the African Union Plan of Action on Cultural and Creative Industries.

Connect for Culture Africa will intertwine advocacy efforts at regional and national levels through a multistakeholder regional network that will bring culture advocates together raising awareness on the benefits of investing in culture for a democratic, inclusive, peaceful, and sustainable social and economic development.

Selam will work closely with the African Union Culture Division, the Social Affairs Department Culture institutions, government agencies, research institutions/universities, the media, artists, and civil society organisations, among others. This effort is expected to result in increased political will for the sector, which will lead to budget proposals, budget bills, and, in countries where the process is further along, discussions on increased budget allocation to the culture and creative sectors.

The AU Plan of Action on Cultural and Creative Industries strongly focuses on potential areas for the development of the creative economy sector on the continent such as Markets for Africa’s Cultural and Creative Industries; Education, Capacity Building and Sustainability; Finance and Investment; Intellectual Property Rights; Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); Cultural Infrastructure; Cultural and Creative Industry Statistics; and Social Inclusion and Cohesion. Among its objectives is to ensure an increase in national budgets and resources allocated by Member States to cultural and creative industries; increase copyrights compliance in Member States by protecting intellectual property rights of creators through effective legislation and enforcement and facilitate the emergence and growth of CCI businesses within Member States that are globally competitive.

“This Plan of Action recognises the role of the sector in engendering inclusive development, good governance, economic empowerment, poverty alleviation, job creation, trade and regional integration, this plan articulates the priorities and paths for the development of African cultural and creative industries as well as provides a framework that allows for effective coordination of inputs from Member States, strategic partners and stakeholders towards a common goal,” Selam founder and executive director Teshome Wondimu said.

Adding that: “In addition to the plethora of regulations and laws that are constricting the growth of creative businesses, the lack of funding and proper infrastructure to create and distribute are a major drawback. The reality is that as much as we are witnessing a deep appreciation for talent and creativity on the continent, there is still some hesitation when it comes to investing in the creative industry. Therefore our goal will be to advocate for a stronger public investment in the culture and creative sectors through various activities on education, research, conferencing, network building, lobby and campaigns.”

Commenting on this new agreement with Selam, the Head of the Regional Development Cooperation in Africa at Sida, Ulla Andrén said: “We are proud to expand our collaboration with Selam and are convinced that this project will lead to a deeper understanding of how culture can be a vehicle for peace, gender equality and democratic values on the African continent.”

Connect for Culture Africa is a continuation of Selam and Sidas work on the continent as advocates for a well-structured culture ecosystem. For the past 17 years, the organisation has implemented culture projects in 9 regions in Ethiopia, focusing on culture, democracy, human rights, and other cross-cutting issues through research, capacity building, training, and production. Presently, Selam is also implementing the Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) regional project in Nigeria, The Gambia, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia. Funded by the Swedish Arts Council, PANAF seeks to create a Pan-African inclusive voice for organisations connecting African artists and culture producers defending artistic freedom to, among other activities, lobby for better policies that allow artists to freely create and distribute their work without fear of being censored.

Photo: Hans Henric Lundquist, Ambassador Ethiopia and Djibouti, Permanent Representative to AU, IGAD and UNECA, Teshome Wondimu, Founder and Executive Director Selam, Ulla Andrén, Head of the Regional Development Cooperation in Africa at Sida.

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