Burundi president and the current Chairperson of the East African Community Evariste Ndayishimiye launched the 5th Edition of the East African Community (EAC) Arts and Culture Festival (Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival – JAMAFEST) at the Intwari Stadium on Monday 5th September, 2022.
The President said the East African Community Arts and Culture code named “JAMAFEST” creates new channels for community dialogue and nurtures cultural diversity while at the same time creating opportunities and distribution channels for cultural products.
“I would like to point out, that Culture and creative industries is one of the sectors that the East African Community region is looking at in creating more employment opportunities especially for the youth.”
He said that the East Africa’s cultural diversity is critical in driving regional integration among Partner States and applauded both the EAC Council of Ministers for directing the EAC Secretariat to organize the Jamafest in the Partner States on rotational basis and the EAC Secretariat for implementing the Council decision.
The president Ndayishimiye reiterated that culture is an important part of every development process because only taking into account economic and social factors without paying attention to the cultural perspectives.
In addition, the Head of State said cultural expression helps foster respect and understanding between individuals and groups with different identities, thereby helping to resolve or prevent conflict and consequently enhance collaboration and relationships.
“I really appreciate the significance of coming together to interact and share experiences meant to foster social cohesion and unity within East African Community region.”
The President challenged the Partner States to use platforms such as JAMAFEST to showcase their creative industries, and share best practices, thus opening practitioners’ new horizons on the regional and global culture and creative industry market.
On his part, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors Christophe Bazivamo noted that the creative economy is projected to reach a global value of USD 985 billion by 2023 and could represent 10% of the global GDP according to International Finance Corporation, December, 2021. The EAC Official informed the participants that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) reports on creative economy (2018).
As the global market of cultural goods and services doubled from $208 billion in 2002 to $509 billion in 2015, Bazivamo said that there is no doubt that with the abundancy of creative talent and rich cultural assets in the EAC Partner States.
The Jamafest is being held within the provision of Article 119 (c) of the Treaty for the Establishment of EAC where Partner States undertake to promote close cooperation amongst themselves in culture and sports.