BEST PRACTICES of the ACPCultures+ programme: “Facilitating the Development and Growth of the Culture & Arts Sector under the EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership and Agreement”.

The overall objective of the project, implemented by the Centre for Cultural and African Studies (CeCast), was to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development through the promotion of a viable culture and arts sector in the ECOWAS region. Specifically, the project aimed to take advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Services Agreement, and other Trade Agreements such as the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) to mainstream the needs and interests of the arts and culture sector into trade negotiations and agreements that facilitate support from key stakeholders, governments, and regional authorities for the growth and development of the culture sector.


The first activity consisted of a study of selected arts and culture sub-sectors in the partner countries of the ECOWAS region. The study helped to assess the current policies, regulations, and institutional framework of these sub-sectors, their growth and development, and opportunities for the industry from the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the ECOWAS region and the EU. The sectors targeted for the study included music, film and television, book and magazine publishing, performing arts, visual arts, festivals and cultural tourism, and fashion. The results from the study included key recommendations on mainstreaming the business interests of the culture sector into trade agreements and negotiations.

As a second step, consultations were held in the four countries with more than 300 participants from the key target groups and stakeholders to raise awareness of the importance of mainstreaming culture and the arts to foster cultural cooperation and regional integration in West Africa. Following the study, a forum was hosted in Ghana, attended by more than 50 regional participants, to disseminate and validate the study and its recommendations to stakeholders, target groups, and beneficiaries.

Following this seminar, the partners, in cooperation with the local target groups and stakeholders, organised a B2B (Business-to-Business) meeting of cultural artists and entrepreneurs from West Africa, also attended by delegates from the Pacific. The B2B meeting attracted artists, designers, and entrepreneurs coming together to network, share experiences, and discuss the mainstreaming of culture and the arts into trade agreements. An action plan was conceived for the implementation of these recommendations. The seminar helped strengthen exchanges and cooperation between cultural entrepreneurs and artists from West Africa, as well as aiding the promotion of trade in cultural goods and services between West Africa and Europe. 

Following the B2B Seminar, a capacity-building training workshop was held on the EPAs, ETLS, and WTO for cultural intermediaries in the four partner countries. The aim of this workshop was to enable these countries to mainstream the outcome of both dissemination seminars and B2B meetings into culture and arts policies, and to enhance advocacy skills for the on-going EPA trade negotiation and future processes. The training workshops in the four countries were attended by a total of 200 participants across the sub-region including delegates from the Caribbean, citing the culture protocol in the EU-CARIFORUM Partnership Agreement. The training sessions led to enhanced capacity of culture and arts associations in West Africa to effectively lobby their respective administrations for future WTO negotiations.


The project has led to a deeper understanding of national and regional cultural policies as well as their implementation. Further, the activities enabled exchanges and cooperation between cultural entrepreneurs and artists from West Africa, Europe, the Pacific, and the Caribbean to promote trade in cultural goods and services among the ACP regions and with Europe. Furthermore, the project has also helped governments to understand the importance of mainstreaming culture into the regional ECOWAS integration process.

The activities of the project have helped enhance awareness among cultural stakeholders as to the economic importance of the cultural industries in the ECOWAS region as well as the enhanced capacity of cultural actors to lobby for the implementation of recommendations regionally and nationwide.

The lessons learned in the implementation of this action will be mainstreamed and disseminated through the University School Curriculum to support governments in promoting the growth of the culture and arts as a job creation sector in West Africa.

At the regional ECOWAS level, the project has enabled the partners’ dialogue with the ECOWAS Commission Directorates (Trade, Culture) and parliamentarians on the implementation of the ECOWAS cultural policies, the challenges faced in implementation, and how trade agreements such as the EPAs can facilitate the development, growth, and regional integration of the culture sector.

The project has had several positive results on the selected target groups:

1. Ministries of Culture, Trade, and Industries: the project has deepened the understanding of officials from these ministries on opportunities to be derived from the culture and arts sector under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The activities helped to strengthen the ability of trade agreements influencing on the culture and arts sector to ensure that trade negotiations and agreements serve to develop the growth of the sector;

2. The private sector operators understood how they can engage and take advantage of these agreements to collaborate with their governments and enhance their competitiveness to promote their growth and profitability;

3. The action has also helped raise awareness to parliamentarians of opportunities provided by Trade Agreements. This extensive knowledge will enable parliamentarians to support legislation in favour of the culture sector;

4. The project also enhanced the knowledge of ECOWAS commission officials, specifically those in the directorates of Trade and Culture, on the needs of the sector. The commissions will implement regional policy reforms for the development and growth of the sector.


More best practices HERE 

June 21, 2017
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