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Cultural Diplomacy In Africa

Event Review (December 2010)

Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders (CDA)

(December 5th - December 11th 2010)

Event Report

The forum Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders took place from December 5th to the 11th 2010 in Berlin, which included the Rise of Africa Conference: Africa as a Growing International Power Bloc. It brought together a group of speakers consisting of leading representatives of local political and commercial bodies, academia and civil society, as well as forty young leaders.

The forum examined the history and development of cultural diplomacy with a focus on the development of Africa’s relations from cultural, economic and political perspectives. Other issues addressed were the emerging new models for African governance and development; the African Diaspora and its role in the development of Africa; the importance of Cultural Diplomacy and soft power in strengthening relations between African nations and within the nations themselves. As part of the weeklong forum, the participants took part in the Rise of Africa Conference, entitled “Africa as a growing International Power Bloc”. The conference offered insightful discussion and debates from both past and present perspectives, with particular focus on regional cooperation and integration within Africa, the use of international aid and Africa’s changing role in a global context.

Forum Speakers

Prof. Dr. Berit Sandberg (Professor of Public Business Administration and Public Management at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft)
Prof. Collette A. Suda (Secretary for Gender and Social Development, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development of Kenya)
Daniel Pelz (Coordinating Editor of the Africa/Middle East Programme, Deutsche Welle)
Eshete Tilahun (Head of the Economic Section of the Embassy of Ethiopia to the Federal Republic of Germany)
Dr. Halima Noor-Abdi (Regional Advisor on Trade, UNECA)
H.E Mohammed Rachad Bouhlal (Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Federal Republic of Germany)
Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda (African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem)
John Eichler (CEO of Blue Elephant AG - Holding & Consulting)
Dr. Khazriel Ben Yehuda (Director of the Institute of Regenerative Truth)
Laurence Madeline (Curator and Chief of the Department for Culture and Education, Musée d’Orsay)
Mark Donfried (ICD Founder and Director)
Prof. Dr. Michel Cullin (Director of the department for Franco-Austrian relations at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna)
Dr. Patrick Osakwe (Senior Economic Affairs Officer in the Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD))
Peter Rees (ICD Development Director
Sandile Gregory Gwexe (Representative of the South African Embassy)
Tumenta F. Kennedy (Program Director for the ''Building Global Cooperation-New Alliances with Africa''Program at the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics)
Yehoeshahfaht Ben Israel (Dr Martin Luther King Institute for a New Humanity)

Locations

  • ICD House
  • Moroccan Embassy
  • German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt)

Summary of Events

Sunday, December 5th 2010: The first day began in the afternoon with introductions from the CDA team and participants. This was followed by a welcome speech by Mark Donfried on cultural diplomacy, its historical development and contemporary application. The participants then went for a welcome dinner and social activity to “En Passant”, a charming Mediterranean / Tunisian restaurant situated in West Berlin.

Monday, December 6th 2010:
Day two began with a trip to the Moroccan Embassy, where the First Secretary for Cultural Affairs, Driss Alaoui, discussed Morocco’s cultural influences and attractions and presented an Art Exhibition by a Moroccan Embassy.  In the afternoon, the group examined cultural diplomacy and regional integration in the case studies of Ethiopia and then Algeria. The day concluded with a film screening of inspirational stories of African Entrepreneurship.

Tuesday, December 7th 2010: On this day, the forum began with the presentation of participant papers focusing on regional cooperation and a lecture on the role of sport in cultural diplomacy. The afternoon allowed the participants time to explore Berlin with a sightseeing tour of all the cultural and historical sights Berlin has to offer, including the famous Christmas markets.

Wednesday, December 8th 2010: Three days in to the program, first on the agenda was a trip to the German Foreign Office for a talk on the current role of Germany in Africa, followed by a lecture on the question of ‘Aid’; what works, what hasn’t and what is needed to move forward. The afternoon session examined the need to unite and mobilise the African Diaspora, followed by a presentation on the potential of participants’ leadership initiatives. The evening involved a lecture and concert promoting the efforts of “Trees for the Future” entitled: “Music for Moringa Olifeira” and followed by a dinner reception.

Thursday, December 9th 2010 - Saturday, December 11th 2010
Participants attended the conference ‘’Rise of Africa: Africa as a Growing International Power Bloc’’.

Sunday, December 5th 2010

Central themes:

  • Cultural diplomacy is, according to Milton C. Cummings, “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding”.
  • In order to understand the practice of cultural diplomacy, it is necessary to identify the agent, what their agenda is, the vehicle through which it is delivered, and who their target audience is.
  • Understanding the many different forms of cultural diplomacy; it can be both governmental and non-governmental and can be both negative and positive.

Monday, December 6th 2010

Central themes:

  • Cultural diplomacy is the only successful path to regional integration beyond weak and temporary trade agreements.
  • Greater economic integration is required in order for Africa as a region to emerge from the global economic crisis with minimal damage.
  • An important issue that needs to be addressed for greater integration to occur is the need for more physical infrastructure between states and this has been the recipient of much aid, particularly from China.
  • Ethiopia’s path to cooperation and coexistence with its neighbours was discussed and will be its key to prosperity.
  • Ethiopia is a strong supporter of integration in Africa and hosted a conference in 2007 on the issue.
  • Successful regional integration needs to be introduced step by step and cannot be hurried- the EU model has taken over sixty years to get to where it is now.
  • In North Africa there exists an Arab Maghreb Union but it has had little success so far, as traditional rivalries between the states continue and meetings are boycotted, particularly over the issue of independence of Western Sahara which Algeria supports but Morocco refuses.   There is also a traditional rivalry between Libya and Tunisia.
  • Traditional ties between North African countries and their European colonialists can be greater used to encourage development; relaxed immigration law between France and Algeria have allowed an exchange of ides and expertise between the nations.

Tuesday, December 7th 2010

Central themes:
  • There are great challenges faced by the African Union (AU) when regarding regional co-operation. Nevertheless, the potential economic and political rewards are also significant.
  • The integration of African markets will lead to an increased social and economic interaction, interconnectedness and cohesion, thereby creating new cross-border regions.
  • The initial aim is to create a free trade area (FTA) followed by a customs union, then a common market and finally a monetary union. Rather than being imposed from above, integration should be a bottom-up process, i.e. supported by the people.
  • Equal economic development is essential for long-term stability. For instance, South Africa should not simply race ahead and leave other African nations behind.
  • The hegemonic stability theory can be used so that strong hegemons would share wealth rather than dominate it, but that will only happen if the right institutions are in place. Therefore, strong nations would have the ability to act as role models and economic magnets so that weaker nations would also benefit from their economic growth.
  • Problems arise in convincing those nations which have recently emerged from long-term absolute poverty to share this new success.
  • Despite a lack of significant results and strong messages being sent from African regional blocs, the concept is not foreign to the region as cooperation is seen as reducing the significance of borders imposed by colonial powers and formed a strong part of the anti-imperialist movement.
  • The problem with regional blocs is the lack of strong institutions to do the administrative groundwork and create change on the ground.
  • Apart from the African Union there are regional agreements in North, South, East, West and Central Africa. In order to strengthen the African Union these sub-regional groupings need time to be built up to foster strong cooperation between a state and its immediate neighbours.

Wednesday, December 8th 2010

Central themes:
  • Without the collaboration of strong African states it will be impossible to secure peace and fight global poverty, tackle climate change and resolve energy and raw materials problems.
  • Germany focuses its development goals in Africa on good governance, water and sustainable economic development
  • Alongside cooperation with individual African states the promotion of regional and pan-African organisations is becoming increasingly important.
  • Between 2004 and 2007, funding from Germany for development cooperation with Africa was increased by 34 per cent. Including debt cancellation, funding increased in real terms by 56 per cent.  In 2009, pledges worth 1.1 billion Euros were planned for sub-Saharan Africa.
  • There is a lack of lasting relationships in Africa, with bilateral cooperations within the continent being very temporary.
  • There is a need to discourage qualified people from leaving Africa for the west as the brain drain has a significant effect on African economies; people who leave Africa to study should be encouraged to return to build up the economies of their countries.
  • The question was raised of the responsibility of the African Diaspora abroad and to what extent they can help or should help in supporting African countries in the efforts to develop and strengthen their international ties.
  • Universities and research institutions in Africa need more funding and more expertise from the West.

Thursday December 9th 2010 - Saturday, December 11th 2010

Participants attended the conference ‘’The Rise of Africa: Africa as a Growing International Power Bloc’’. Please see: http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/experienceafrica/index.php?en_roa_congress-reviews_2010-12