The Cultural Bureau of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is on the path to safeguard and promote the diverse cultural heritage of its 15 member states by carving a policy for the sector.
The document, crafted by experts from member countries, focuses on the development of cultural and creative industries, and the establishment of cultural goods and service markets in a free trade environment.
The 2019 action plan, which highlights the compilation of West African Cultural Heritage and Rehabilitation of destroyed or altered material and immaterial cultural goods and sites, was adopted during a recent meeting in Cotonou, Benin by culture experts from the regional bloc.
The plan equally considers the adoption of a mechanism for the return of endangered cultural goods from a threatened country to another safe member state in order to protect, restitute and, or formulate a network for museums and other preservation institutions.
Ministers in charge of culture in member states, according to the plan, are expected to integrate the dictates of the document into their national frameworks as it relates to preserving cultural assets of their respective nations.
Moreover, the ratification of international cultural conventions, especially the UNESCO Cultural Conventions and Protocols, and the Marrakech Treaty on the Education of the Visually Challenged people, is expected to be keenly regarded by states, according to the 2019 plan.
Excerpts from the Cotonou meeting suggest that cultural experts made a passionate plead with political actors in West Africa to allow cultural directors, who are civil servants and technicians, to be permitted to attend and participate in cultural meetings and intellectual conferences “because they are the crafters and torchbearers of the sector.”