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UNESCO and Africa 70 years later

The 2015 edition of the Africa Week was inaugurated by His Exc. Mr Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Ambassador of Cameroon to France, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and President of the African Group, alongside Mr Eric Falt, Representative of the Director-General, in the presence of representatives of UNESCO's Member States and many guests.

A reminder of the history of the cooperation between UNESCO and Africa was done as well as that of the support for the continent's liberation movements and the newly independent states which, since 1960, have become UNESCO member states.




© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo

The first day of was marked by the opening ceremony which continued in the "Pas perdus" hall, where guests have discovered the diversity of cultural and artistic heritage of Africa. They were then invited to share African dishes on the UNESCO Piazza. Also there was the screening of Timbuktu, an African feature film, directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, followed by a debate with the public.

The second day of the Africa Week was devoted to a round table on the topic: “Africa, terrorism and Culture of Peace”, moderated by Her Exc. Ms Gisèle Marie Hortense Ossakedjombo-Ngoua Memiaghe, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Gabon to UNESCO. The debate was led around two main approaches: “Education to peace as an essential Culture of Peace instrument” and “Terrorism and cultural diversity as a peace vector”. The first approach was introduced by Ms Aicha Bah Diallo (Guinea), President, Forum African Women Education (FAWE), Ex-Minister and ex Deputy Director-General to Education to UNESCO, who gave a watchful eye on the evolution of educative practices in Africa and how school remains the main place to prevent and learn to children the social harmony. Then, Mr M. Mouhammed Benhammou (Morroco), International expert on strategic and security questions, talked about the serious security challenges in front of Africa. He reminded the public on the importance of this topic – especially nowadays – which is at the heart of this issue on flows (migration - especially illegal immigration, material - weapons, drugs and ideas - religious extremism) and how they participate to the terrorism increase in Africa.

Moderated by HE. Denise Houphouet-Boigny, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Côte d'Ivoire to UNESCO, the second roundtable focused on sustainable development in Africa, especially through the role of women and of the youth. Thus, Mr. Kamal Karry, Researcher and cultural Adviser to the Permanent Delegation of the Comoros, made a presentation on the role of women in African societies and their role in sustainable development. He reported on the progress that has been made in some countries including Liberia, where Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President by universal suffrage. M Kamal also highlighted the efforts of Rwanda, where 51% of members of parliament are women.

Following this presentation, Mr Moussa Samb, Professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, presented an overview of youth infront of environmental challenges and new perspectives development. Recalling that 60% of Africa's population is less than 25 years old, Professor Samb stressed that the demographic weight of youth is not a problem but a solution. While stressing the multiple contributions of youth in national economies, he recalled how the creativity, commitment and mobilization of youth are an asset. Yet, young people are often marginalized in Africa. Thus, several international instruments have been adopted since 2002 to include youth in development policies, including environmental objectives. This is the meaning behind the African Youth Charter adopted in 2006. Professor Samb called to consider a new growth paradigm based on a green economy, which would give more room to young people and would be funded by Africa itself. This growth requires a number of investments and enhanced regional integration. The presentations were followed by discussions.



© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo

 The third day of the African week was  an opportunity for the Foundation Africa France to present its objectives and activities for a renewed partnership between African countries and France. During this presentation, three flagship programmes to strengthen cooperation and mutual understanding between Africa and France were presented:

  • HR-Excellence Africa: Co-produced with the CIAN, this program is a concrete answer to the demand of companies working in Africa for a more inclusive growth and to the needs of the labour market in Africa. It is meant to generate employment for a trained workforce and to upgrade training centers. 
  • LeD Campus: Initiated by Danone (see the report drafted by Emanuel Faber an Jay Naidoo (lien du rapport)), this project will provide young, high-potential Africans working in the private sector, government departments or civil society organisations with management training on African campus, with the support of the CEFEB (Financial, Economic and Banking Studies Centre), the Corporate University of AFD and French and African higher education establishments.

  • The Young Leaders programme: The Foundation’s Young Leaders programme will bring together annually some 30 African and French leaders to forge closer personal ties between them and provide a forum for discussion on the challenges they face. Climate change has been chosen as the theme for 2015 in the preparation of COP 21 in December 2015.

  • The Clusters