ECOWAS launches first edition of West African Festival of Arts and Culture
ECOWAS launches first edition of West African Festival of Arts and Culture

ECOWAS launches first edition of West African Festival of Arts and Culture

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), in partnership with the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, have launched the first West African Festival of Arts and Culture (ECOFEST) in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

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The first edition of ECOFEST will be held from 21 to 28 September 2024 in Abidjan, on the theme: "Culture, a catalyst for peace, diversity and economic and social integration in West Africa".

A statement issued on the launch by ECOWAS dated May 12, 2024, said the aim of this high-level cultural event is to promote the values and cultural identities of the peoples of the ECOWAS community with a view to strengthening regional integration through the blending of the region's populations.  

The festival also aims to usher in a new era in the celebration of West African cultural diversity and to reaffirm the role of culture as a driving force for integration, social cohesion and the socio-economic and cultural development of West Africa.

The 2024 edition of this regional festival was officially launched by Mrs Françoise Remarck, Minister of Culture and Francophonie, representing Robert Beugre Mambe, Prime Minister of Cote d'Ivoire, in the presence of Mrs Damtien L. Tchintchibidja, Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, Professor Fatou SOW SARR, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, and Mr Mamadu Serifo Jaquite, WAEMU Commissioner for Human Development. 

A number of distinguished guests and personalities from the West African artistic and cultural world took part in the colourful launch, which was marked by speeches, performances by artists and a choreographic display.

The choice of Abidjan to host the first edition of ECOFEST is only fair, according to the WAEMU Commissioner. 

According to him, the economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire was the city originally chosen by the initiators of this festival. 

"It was at the ECOWAS UEMOA technical secretariat meeting on June 4, 2018, in Abuja that we decided to join forces to bring to fruition this project, which has been on the ECOWAS agenda since 1987," added Mr Mamadu Jaquite about the origins of ECOFEST.

In her speech on behalf of Dr Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Madam Damtien L. Tchintchibidja thanked the President of Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, and the Ivorian authorities for accepting to host the first edition of ECOFEST. 

She also stressed the importance of this festival for the West African region, saying “In a shared vision of bringing people together and creating wealth from the creative industries, the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions have chosen to co-organise ECOFEST to breathe new life into the event and strengthen exchanges between West African Member States. 

“This event is intended to be a framework for multicultural and multidisciplinary exchange that will reinforce our desire to better conserve and promote West African heritage in accordance with the wishes of the Heads of State and Government.”

In launching the event on behalf of Robert Beugre Mambe, Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire, Minister Françoise Remarck recalled that the decision to host ECOFEST was taken by the President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, who attaches great importance to all initiatives that contribute to strengthening regional integration. 

For the people of Côte d'Ivoire, she said, "it is a source of pride to welcome, in a few months' time, the talents of the various countries with which Côte d'Ivoire shares the values of peace, social cohesion and tolerance, all of which contribute to greater regional integration in economic and social terms. 

"Culture is the mirror of our collective soul, the reflection of our traditions, our history and our identity. It is filled with symbolism and history, and today we are planting the seeds of a celebration of the diversity of our artistic expressions, the richness of our heritage and the vitality of our contemporary creations," concluded Minister Remarck.

ECOFEST, which will bring together the 15 ECOWAS Member States, including the eight from UEMOA, will be an opportunity to commit public authorities, public and private players in the cultural sector to promoting the cultural wealth of the West African region.

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