ECOWAS Chairman and President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan has called on member states to look into the possibility of creating an ECOWAS Cultural Market
that will encourage the free flow of creative products within the sub-region for mutual economic benefits.
President Jonathan spoke through Secretary to the Government Anyim Pius Anyim at the opening of the 4th Session of the ECOWAS Ministers of Culture in Abuja this weekend.
He noted that the various activities of the cultural industries in the sub-region have the potentials to boost socio-economic development and provide employment opportunities for millions of adults and youths, thus reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development if properly harnessed and managed.
To realise this goal, he said certain measures were imperative – provision of legal and institutional framework that will foster development of cultural products and their free movement to impact on the economy of member states; measures to promote the production and distribution of cultural products, and support for trade in cultural products within the region’s cultural common market.
The ECOWAS Chair said this is in line with the UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the diversity of Cultural Expression.
The Nigerian President urged the ministers to study and use the 1992 Dakar Plan of Action adopted by the African Union, UNESCO and other partners, as well as other relevant documents, as a guide for the development of the region’s cultural industries.
He commended ECOWAS for establishing the Copyright Observatory and the plan to set up an ECOWAS Copyright Hologram, and to transform piracy into a custom violation, adding, however, that the latter initiative should be made part of the custom laws of member countries in order to achieve the desired impact.
Speaking on behalf of President of the ECOWAS Commission James Victor Gbeho, the Commissioner for Gender and Development, Dr. Adrienne Diop, said the Commission is of the belief that ”vital to the attainment of cultural renaissance, development must be rooted in the culture of the people with core values in order to achieve the desired socio-economic emancipation and regional integration.”
She said it was on this basis that the region’s leaders adopted the ECOWAS Protocol on the Cultural Framework Agreement with the objective of promoting the cultural dimensions of development to create community awareness with a sense of belonging founded on historical, linguistic and geo-political links.
According to the Commissioner, the 4th regional Culture Ministerial conference, being held under the theme: ”Cultural Industries and Development,” is aimed at advancing the development of creative cultural industries through the adoption of effective strategies and mechanisms that would translate them into actions for greater economic gains in order to
improve the living standards of the populations.
Welcoming the delegates, Nigeria’s Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, urged ECOWAS member states to harness the cultural endowments of the region to advance socio-economic development, trade and regional integration.
Also speaking, UNESCO Country Representative in Nigeria Joseph Ngu described culture as a fundamental component of sustainable development and a powerful contributor to socio-economic stability, and environmental preservation and conservation