Niger: the cultural turn to development and poverty reduction
Niger is looking to reap the benefits from dynamic and sustainable cultural industries. Indeed, the country has made culture a strong component of its Accelerated Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, notably for the sector's recognised economic potential.
The country's desire to structure its culture sector has lead to the establishment of a national cultural policy and sectoral policies, to be implemented with the aid of a National Strategic Plan for Cultural Development constituted through a multisectoral committee. An accompanying mapping of existing cultural industries has also taken place in Niamey in early 2012.
Aim of the mission
This technical assistance mission complemented Niger's desire to take advantage of the potential of its culture sector. Indeed, it assisted the country in its efforts to expand and develop cultural-industry support activities and resources throughout the country.
By creating a fostering environment for its cultural industries, the country will thus benefit from the growth of these industries, with durable economic (employment and poverty reduction) and social benefits that will help to improve the living conditions of its citizens.
Mr Francisco d'Almeida (Togo) and Mr Jordi Baltà Portolés (Spain) provided the country with their recognised expertise in cultural-industry support, management and development in order to reinforce national capacities to support these industries. Consequently, the experts contributed to strengthening the role and capacities of the Agence de Promotion des Entreprises et Industries Culturelles (Agency of the Promotion of Cultural Industries and Businesses, APEIC), as well as its relations with the main stakeholders of the culture sector and of other sectors concerned with the cultural industries. These activities aim to help APEIC become a key player in the culture sector, capable of supporting the development of cultural industries at all stages, as well as helping to ensure their longevity.
During their first country visit in July 2012, the experts carried out numerous assessment activities in order to better understand the environment in which the APEIC works and to identify the needs and challenges facing Nigerien cultural entrepreneurs. They consulted a number of governmental representatives (notably the Minister for Youth, Sport and Culture) as well as members of civil society and cultural operators and artists. This in-depth analysis also helped to identify possible partners for APEIC, as well as the other international and bilateral agencies working in this sector (OIF, French , Luxembourgian and Spanish cooperation agencies, and the Delegation of the European Union), in order to coordinate their actions and to maximise the benefits of the different activities.
This preparatory work opened the way for the second and third country visits, in September and November 2012, which were divided into two elements: 1) reinforcing APEIC's capacities; and 2) designing an intervention strategy and an action plan for the Agency. The first element notably included training components for the APEIC team, especially on the UNESCO 2005 Convention, the cultural economy, cultural industries and the modalities of supporting cultural enterprises. The Agency's group of partners and counterparts was also enlarged, to notably include members of the banking and professional training sectors. The second element of the visits was centred on defining APEIC's overall strategy as well as priority training activities that it would then carry out.
Other than reinforcing APEIC's capacities, which will enable it to carry out a wide scope of culture-sector support activities, a strategy was designed during this mission that focused on defining APEIC's overall approach and position within the culture sector, as well as the priority training activities that it should carry out to strengthen the sector. This strategy was both the fruit of the cooperation between the experts and the national team, as well as of the numerous exchanges with the different institutional, economic and professional stakeholders linked to the support of the cultural industries. The strategy comes with a medium-term action plan (2013-2015) and aims to generate a strong support system for cultural industries in Niger. The mission also benefited from a high level of media coverage, enabling it to raise awareness amongst the classical industries as well as the general public on the important role that culture can play as a vector of social and economic development.
The follow-up mission took place from 26 August to 3 September 2013 and led to the finalization of Action Plans for the 2014-2015 period and a guidance document for the identification of priority markets in the cultural industries sectors. It also helped analyze APEIC’s current situation and its ability to meet the objectives of the project, as well as the development of its activities following the first mission in 2012. The experts have noted a real increase of APEIC’s actions, a real commitment of its staff and a better understanding of cultural industries.