Geneva, 28 April 2008 — Shows and exhibitions at UNCTAD XII of African music, dance, fashion, film, and arts and crafts, as well as policy-oriented debates involving artists, institutions and the creative community -- collectively packaged around the concept of Creative Africa -- should be the beginning of a long-term strategy to help the continent benefit economically from its creative talents and cultural heritage, officials said at the close of UNCTAD´s quadrennial conference here.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpadki said following a 23 April concert at the National Theatre of Ghana that the Creative Africa Initiative aims to assist Governments, artists, and others involved in the field to build on their capacities to spur development.
Along with the concert held on 23 April, which featured poetry, music, and dance, the other centrepiece of Creative Africa was a 24 April spectacle of fashion, film, and traditional dance. Both drew large audiences from those attending the 20-25 April UNCTAD XII Ministerial Conference in Accra, the Ghanaian capital.
Marketing and export of artistic and creative products hold great potential for Africa. The Creative Economy Report 2008: The Challenge of Assessing the Creative Economy -- Towards Informed Policymaking, launched at UNCTAD XII on 20 April, notes that international trade in creative goods and services surged to US$424.4 billion in 2005, a near doubling from the estimated $227.4.billion such products earned in 1996. The rate of growth since the turn of the Millennium has been over 8% annually. Yet while Africa´s exports of creative goods nearly doubled during the period 2000-2005 from US$ 973 million to US$ 1.8 billion, the share of Africa in global trade in the creative industries remains less than 1% of the world market . Experts say explosive growth in the field is expected, given the continent´s remarkable untapped resources of talent and heritage.
The report is a joint undertaking of UNCTAD and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and gathers contributions from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The Creative Africa Initiative was intended to showcase to Governments and the international community attending UNCTAD XII the extent of Africa´s artistic and commercial potential for fostering sustainable and inclusive development.
The 23 April concert featured a performance by African Children Sing, followed by the Obonu and Brazilian GhanaSamba percussion groups. Then Prof. Attukwei Okai of Ghana gave a poetry reading. Pop music followed from world-famous Ghanaian artists Amandzeba, Ambolley, Pat Thomas, and Samimi. The concert was organized in association with Power over Poverty and opened with a speech by S. K. Boafo, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture of Ghana.
The 24 April event opened with contemporary rap music from the AURA group (African Union of Rap Artists). Then the Nigeria National Troupe of Dance performed a traditional dance with choreography based on exorcism rituals. That was followed by a fashion show featuring designs and songs by the self-taught Cameroonian Anggy Haif. Twelve top models presented an African-inspired collection using modern and natural materials such as raphia, roots, leaves, and liana items. The evening finished with the film "White Water," presented by its Nigerian director, Izu Ojukwu, a talent from the emerging "Nollywood" filmmaking generation.
Edna dos Santos, Chief of UNCTAD´s Creative Economy and Industries Programme, emphasized the importance of involving stakeholders and building on the Initiative to make it a sustainable and effective tool for promoting Africa´s development. Nigeria´s Minister of Information and Communication, John Ogar Odey, has accepted UNCTAD´s invitation to serve as Creative Africa´s Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Dos Santos said.