With East Africa rapidly emerging as one of the the world's creative and entrepreneurial hotspots, UNESCO is launching a new project in Uganda on 27 July to strengthen the country's cultural industries and the skills of creative professionals.
The project, 'Creative Industries Development for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: Strengthening the sustainability of creative industries in Uganda', is financed by the Republic of Korea and supports the implementation of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which was ratified by Uganda in April 2015.
"We are grateful for this support from the Republic Korea," underlines Mrs Rosie Agoi, Secretary-General of the Uganda's National Commission for UNESCO. "Uganda is convinced of the potential of the creative industries to contribute to the sustainable development of the country. That is one of the primary reasons we ratified the 2005 Convention. "We are confident that this project will give us the solid base and momentum needed to further develop the creative industries in Uganda".
Kicking off the project in the capital, Kampala, at the National Theatre and Crafts Village, technical experts drawn from relevant ministries, departments and agencies as well as the private sector and universities will form a task force to be co-chaired by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. The project Task Force will lead a mapping exercise of the cultural industries in three regions across the country, and oversee a series of training sessions to improve skills in artistic design, marketing and management to improve the quality of cultural goods, and lay the foundations for increased income generation.
The meeting will be opened by Mrs Rosie Agoi, Secretary-General of the Uganda's National Commission for UNESCO; H.E Jong-Dae PARK, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Uganda; Mr Mohamed Djelid, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, and Mr Pius Bijirimana, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda.
''We believe that the 2005 Convention is an important tool for promoting diversity in cultural expressions and enhancing local development pathways, in line with the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,'' says Keum Gi Hyung, Director, International Cultural Affairs Division, Ministry of Culture, the Republic of Korea. ''Creativity is important in societies as it brings social cohesion and helps to facilitate exchanges and access market,'' he adds.
Uganda is already a recognized scene setter for the film industry - it was featured as a location in the Hollywood movie Mississippi Masala, starring Denzel Washington and directed by Mira Nair. Ms Nair has also established in Kampala a film school called the Maisha Film Lab fostering young directors, screenwriters and producers Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania
A recent British Council study, Scoping the creative economy in East Africa (2015), reports that Maisha has provided over 400 scholarships, produced 38 films and has made film available to the entire East African community through cultural exchanges, partnerships, a monthly film chat, and an annual film festival. Together with Hive Colab the country's leading digital hub, Maisha Film Labs is considered as one of the leading examples of Uganda's creative economy.
In 2013, according to recent UNESCO/UIS data on the international flows of cultural goods and services, Uganda exported cultural goods worth almost US $7 million and experts report the country can increase profits in the long run with more investment in creativity to contribute towards reducing poverty.
Employment in the creative industries is growing, for example the copyright industries employ about 100,000 people countrywide, according to a mapping survey commissioned by Uganda National Commission (UNATCOM) for UNESCO in 2009.
In a move to secure the important role of the creative industries in the National Plan for Development, the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) has been mobilizing the government to mainstream culture in all development initiatives and specifically to earmark at least 1 percent of the national budget to cultural development programmes.
''We hope that these trainings will also be a platform to bring about new ideas and connections among the key players in cultural policy making and civil society to start building on music, film art and other forms of creativity,'' underlines Danielle Cliche, Secretary of UNESCO's 2005 Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Uganda is the first African country to benefit from the UNESCO Korean Funds-in-Trust, established in 2007 to enhance creativity in developing countries in Africa and Asia. USD $145,000 has been granted for this project. Other countries to benefit from the Korean funding for the creative industries include Mongolia and Vietnam.
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