A 3-Day technical Workshop for the finalisation of the West African Festival of Arts and Culture (ECOFEST), 2019 commenced in Abuja, Nigeria on the 8th of October 2018.
Opening the Workshop, the Commissioner for Science and Culture of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Professor Leopoldo Amado said the participants have been brought together for an examination of the major propositions of the ECOWAS regional policy on culture.
Stressing that the ECOFEST project has been long awaited, he maintained that it is a product of the “synergy of actions” between the Commission of ECOWAS and that of the West African Monetary Union (WAEMU).
According to Commissioner Amado, ECOFEST promises to be a “multidisciplinary market for the Region” and although far from reflecting the ambition of some major events in the past, like FESTAC in Nigeria (1977) or the World Festival of Negro Arts (FESMAN) in Senegal, it would help speed up the free movement of people and property in the Region.
Commissioner Amado listed the broad range objectives of the Workshop to include the identification of the practical articulations of the organization of 2019 ECOFEST, the development of a detailed description of the activities to be implemented as well as the determination of the artistic and technical implications of the event.
He opined further that the experts are to finalise the actual budget of the event, the specifications of the host country including the private agency responsible for mobilizing the additional resources necessary for its organization.
Participants are also to determine the communication and resource mobilization as well as practical organizing strategies of the event.
The Commissioner enthused that the work of the experts is expected make ECOFEST one of the biggest markets and cultural events of reference for the whole Region, sufficient to unify of all the potential of the arts and cultures of the West African Community.
Also addressing the participants, the Director of Culture and Tourism at the WAEMU Commission Mr. Gustave Diasso noted that the technical meeting gives the desired impetus to “make the ECOFEST project happen this time”
He said the consultation meeting is a sign of the will of the ECOWAS and the WAEMU Commissions to examine with the utmost attention, all the actions enabling quick and successful implementation of the project meant to improve the visibility of cultural expressions in our region.
He also pointed out that the fundamental objective sought by ECOWAS and WAEMU is the integration of the West Africa region. This integration, he noted, involves the establishment of a common market, the free movement of persons and goods, the harmonization of economic policies and the implementation of common sectoral policies.
But he stressed that the mixing of peoples and culture has a very important role to play in the integration of the region being also the reason why the Conference of Heads of State and Government of WAEMU, instituted by an additional Act-a Common Policy of Cultural Development within the WAEMU.
The objective of the policy is to “diversify the sub-regional economy and to ensure the influence of WAEMU through the creation of optimal conditions for cultural development in a perspective of sustainable development and consolidation of community dynamics “. He added.
Stressing that the WAEMU, Commission has been involved for several years in promoting cultural activities within the region, he pledged the full availability of the WAEMU’s Directorate of Culture and Tourism in the preparation of the ECOFEST 2019 in “promoting the international visibility of the cultural expressions of the West Africa region”
Disclosing that Heads of Institutions are waiting for the structured recommendations (from the Workshop) that will allow them to renew their commitment to this unprecedented project, he reminded participants that
ECOFEST is a decision of the Heads of State of ECOWAS, intended to promote the creation of a large arts and culture market for the benefit of people of the region.