Future of African creative economy debated at Rabat conference

The role of culture in aiding sustainable national development was the chief topic of discussion at this year’s African Creative Economy Conference.

Held in Rabat, Morocco, from 13-15 November, the annual event brought together a diverse mixture of African artists, arts practitioners, academics and policymakers to debate the state of the continent’s creative economy.

The 4th ACEC was jointly hosted by Racines, a non-profit working to promote Morocco’s creative industries, and Arterial Network, a pan-African civil society of artists, cultural activists and NGOs.

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Aadel Essaadani, Arterial Network’s chairperson, stated: ‘The ACEC sets new standards in terms of knowledge exchange as it unpacks creative economy strategies and African perspectives across disciplines and fields.’

Speakers at the event this month included African Ministers of Culture and various other cabinet delegates, as well as thought-leaders representing UNESCO and the African Union. Cultural entrepreneurs such as Joy Mboya of Nairobi’s GoDown Arts Center and Touria el Glaoui of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair also took to the stage, along with singer Didier Awadi, fashion designer Alphadi, and photographer Aida Muluneh.

The sessions addressed the need to map the different sectors of Africa’s creative economies, and acknowledged the role of the arts in promoting freedom of expression and democracy. Leading cultural figures shared success stories and ideas of best practice, with a view to coming up with pragmatic solutions.

Essaadani said: ‘Africa has to generate its own images and ensure intrinsic development by professionalising its cultural actors and by preserving its heritage. This will be achieved by the logic and strategy of the network, and through constructive cooperation with Africa’s cultural and economic partners.’

Other topics included the cultural sector’s contribution to socioeconomic development; how to further encourage entrepreneurship within the sector; and lessons to be learned from emerging countries in Latin America and Asia.