Encouraging the preservation of the audio-visual heritage in ACP countries

The philosophy of the “Digital Capital” project can be summarized with the words of Jules Renard: “My imagination is my memory.” The project as a whole strives to encourage the preservation of the audio-visual heritage in ACP countries. With this goal in mind, three axes of the initiative were developed:

1) Re-circulation of works that have disappeared from distribution channels due to a lack of availability; the goal was to restore 200 hours of fiction or documentary films;

2) Improvement in distributing television archives: better management of image inventories, facilitation of exchanges between channels, and production incentives for documentaries using archives;

3) Support for the establishment of a legal framework for the conservation (and therefore the appreciation) of the audio-visual heritage (an audio-visual repository) in the eight WAEMU countries. The project was partnered with support for local organizations, namely the Institut Imagine, which provides funding for films and digitized series to teachers and researchers.


The re-release of digitized works rests on the leadership of an associated organization (the Bibliothèque National de France) and two partners (Côte Oeust Audiovisuel, distributor of television programs and Soon, operator of VoD platform The declared objective was the re-release of 200 hours of programming, after the signing of distribution mandates with around 100 audio-visual production organizations.

The broadcasting of these programs shows promise:

  • A distribution contract was already signed with the National Television of Mali to broadcast 100 hours of programming;
  • Broadcasting on Youtube. In total, the 30 films or television episodes posted online have exceeded 500,000 views (as of April 2017)

“The signing of new distribution mandates, deliveries to distributors and to rights-holders of digitized works obtained via the Bibliothèque National de France, and the sale of distribution rights to television stations must continue,” explains Pierre Barreau, who heads the project.


Increased distribution of television archives has led to three separate projects. The first concerns the restoration of the AIME system by around twenty public television stations for the digitization and indexing of their archives. AIME is an indexing software that provides digitization for audio-visual archives. Developed by CIRTEF in the early 2000s, it was installed in twenty or so African public television channels as well as in Haiti, although the operation did not run without its faults. The Digital Capital project developed a new version of the software. Incorporating the needs of the programmers and archivists who use the system. It also allowed for the establishment of a network of AIME users via the site Archibald, which permits the exchange of archival footage. The development of AIME 4.0 was led by the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA). The implementation of this system and the training of users (programmers and archivists) was jointly provided by the INA and the CIRTEF (Conseil International des Radios et Télévisions d’Expression française). In January 2017, the CIRTEF announced that 25 sites in 23 countries were now using the AIME 4.0 programme.

The project also enabled the Archibald site to be online. Archibald is a tool for centralization, backup, the possible provision of audiovisual funds from various AIME sites in several African countries. 15 television channels were registered on the site in April 2017 (Niger, Mali , Gabon, Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Comoros, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritius, DRC, Seychelles and Djibouti). Attendance in 2016 already reached 11,750 visits and 5,200 file openings, which indicates a real interest for the tool and allows hoping for a rise in power in the months and years to come.


The development of a communal text on the audio-visual depository in the WAEMU zone has been in progress since 2014. The text, finally validated on 3 December 2014 by experts, is a directive that was subsequently approved in September 2015 during the meeting of the experts and ministers of Culture of WAEMU. Its official adoption will be decided by the Council of Statuary Ministers (Ministers of Finance) at the WAEMU.

With the support of the archives and audio-visual department of the Institut Imagine in Ougadougou, a pilot program for the project was launched. Hundreds of audio-visual documents for which Côte Ouest Audiovisuel has obtained distribution mandates were issued to Imagine in the framework of “media library” contracts authorizing the streaming of works. Additionally, in order to guarantee the viability of the Institut’s archives and audio-visual department, the organisation was equipped with a film scanner, allowing for the restoration of works shot on film and ensuring an income via the rendering of such services.

The chosen material, adapted via the processing of 16mm and 35mm film, was finally delivered to Ouagadougou in July 2016. The next month, technicians began to undergo training. The project, carried out at the end of November by an expert from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, facilitated an analysis of the capabilities and needs of Imagine’s archives and audio-visual division. Thanks to this mission, it is possible to train a technician from the Institut Imagine in France starting 2017.

“The initiatives in favour of audio-visual memory contribute, themselves, to reinforcing democratic life in the countries involved,” explains Pierre Barreau. “In addition to discovering aspects of political and social history in their countries, which they often ignore, younger generations can discover what constitutes a better exercise of citizenship. In giving life to forgotten or departed works, Digital Capital allows the public to revisit the history of their country.

This is the case with certain aspects of the series “Mémos” and “Mémoires vives,” as well as re-distributed works, such as “Ironu,” a feature film shown in Benin in March 2016 (30 days after its release), which allowed the public to (re)discover past times rife with human rights violations.

The series “Taxi Brousse” (supported by the European Union) was award-winning in the early 2000s and remained in the public’s collective memory despite its discontinuation. The show has now become accessible and can again give rise to debates on the numerous sensitive themes which it addresses, including questions of governance, democracy, human rights, and HIV/AIDS.

Other series and short films such as “Sita,” “Mariage précoce,” or “Nâitre fille en Afrique” raise the question of women’s rights. The rights of the child are likewise discussed in “Taxi Brousse” as well as in the short films “La quête violêe” or “Garba.”



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October 26, 2017
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