34th Ordinary Session of the African Union convenes

The 34th Ordinary Session of the African Union’s (AU) Assembly, the main event of the 34th AU Summit, will be

African Union

Photo: Reuters/Raphael Satter

The 34th Ordinary Session of the African Union’s (AU) Assembly, the main event of the 34th AU Summit, will be convened under Egypt’s chairmanship in Ethiopia from today till tomorrow.

Under the Summit’s theme of “Levers for Building the Africa We Want”, the Session will discuss the role of culture, art and heritage as catalysts for tourism, economic development, and a strong continental identity. It will specifically focus on harmonisation and coordination among member states in their cultural and art policies.

However, cultural development remains highly uncertain. The COVID-19 pandemic could cause an up to $120 billion loss in GDP for Africa, constraining national budgets for cultural projects. China’s massive investment facilitates its own cultural expansion in Africa, challenging the continent’s continuing efforts to revive its native cultural identity.

Africa’s current recommendation is offering financial inducements for cultural tourism enterprises, which does not reduce cultural tourism’s dependence on international visitors. Meanwhile, China’s increasing investment sustains its cultural influence in Africa. Member governments may consider long-term measures to offset this influence, such as offering government grants for innovative ideas in promoting African heritage, intra-African tourism and partnership schemes between schools and art enterprises to support cultural education.

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