Arts and culture, an alternative to grow African economies

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) governments have been urged to shift their focus from timber, cocoa and minerals exports, and introduce relevant polices and funding into arts and culture to rapidly expand their economies. The stakeholders from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire are discussing the status of culture and arts sector in West Africa and the potential for growth and development under the EU-ECOWAS economic partnership agreement. The culture and creative arts industry is said to be the fastest growing sector of the world economy, with estimated growth rate of 7 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product. Also, culture is a powerful tool for poverty eradication, helping to meet the ambitious goal to reduce the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day to 3 per cent of the population by 2030. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) also reports that world trade of creative goods and services recorded $624 billion in 2011, more than doubling between the years 2002 and 2011. The growth in developing country exports of the sectors’ services averaged 12 per cent annually between 2002 and 2011, but analysts say West African governments pay lip service to that area and failed to exploit its economic benefits.

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