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By Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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ABUJA, Nigeria, May 2, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Ad-hoc Committee monitoring the implementation of ECOWAS Regional Culture Development and Integration Programme has recommended that a study on the contributions of culture to the economy of Member States and the region be conducted by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

This was one of the key recommendations by the Committee at its 6th Meeting held from 16th to 19th April 2012 in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.

In line with the recommendation of the 4th Conference of Ministers of Culture that the ECOWAS Festival of Arts and Culture (ECOFEST) be held in 2013, the meeting urged the ECOWAS Commission to commission a feasibility study on the proposed festival, based on the amended terms of reference with the report made available by the first trimester of


Also at the meeting, the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) which has been collaborating with ECOWAS on language matters, proposed experimentation with three vehicular cross-border languages of Fulfulde, Mandekan and Hausa as additional working languages of ECOWAS to fast track regional integration and development.

This is in conformity with Article 62(c) of the ECOWAS Treaty that mandates promoting the learning and dissemination of a West African language as a factor in Community integration, in addition to the current official working languages of English, French and Portuguese.

The meeting also made proposals on the draft terms of reference for a feasibility study on the planned West African Cultural Institute.

It further recommended that ECOWAS, in collaboration with the statistics division of UNESCO, should organize a training workshop for relevant officers on the collection of cultural statistics in the region.

The ECOWAS Commission was urged to identify, analyze, and make proposals on guidelines for cultural industries in the region, taking into account the legal, fiscal and financial environment of cultural industries in Member States.

The Commission is also encouraged to seek cultural exchange and cooperation with other regional bodies to enhance artistic mobility across Africa.

The ad-hoc committee, established in 1996, comprises representatives of five ECOWAS Member States – Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal – with independent experts and representatives of civil society as observers.

It is charged with monitoring and evaluating the development of culture in the ECOWAS region as well as setting the pace for translating the decisions and recommendations of ECOWAS Authorities into measurable achievements.

Addressing the Cotonou meeting on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission, the Director of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Professor Abdoulaye Maga, highlighted the pivotal position of culture as a major link to developmental programmes.

He urged participants to come up with clear and effective road-map for translating recommendations of the 4th Conference of ECOWAS Ministers of Culture held in Abuja in 2011, into meaningful, concrete and achievable actions.

Mrs. Ruby David, in charge of Cultural Affairs, had in her opening remarks, outlined the achievements of the ad-hoc committee, the objectives of the Cotonou meeting, the expected outcome and the success indicators.

The new Chairman of the committee, Mr. Angama Calixte Behila of Cote d'Ivoire, paid tribute to his predecessor, Mr. George Nkanta Ufot of Nigeria, and urged his colleagues to give their best to the committee for the benefit of the region.