Reinforcing the representation of the Africa region on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 at 10:00
access_time 3 min read

In line with UNESCO’s Priority Africa, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) is supporting 10 African countries without inscribed World Heritage properties (Burundi, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan) through the “Capacity-building programme for the nomination of World Heritage sites in the Africa Region,” supported by the government of Japan, with the objectives of enhancing the capacities of these countries and their experts in developing solid nomination dossiers, while ensuring that inscribed and future African World Heritage properties remain in a good state of conservation.

Since June 2021, the programme has been adapted and implemented in all the beneficiary countries with substantial progress. On 18 May 2022, an online information session was held with concerned Ambassadors, national focal points and partners, to share the achievements and future planning of the programme. The meeting gathered the Ambassadors and representatives of Japan, Burundi, Djibouti, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Kingdom of Eswatini, Republic of Guinea-Bissau, Republic of Sierra Leone, Republic of South Sudan, Liberia, Republic of Rwanda, the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and representatives of the UNESCO WHC .

In his opening remarks, Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director of UNESCO World Heritage highlighted this programme as the best example of the spirit of the World Heritage Convention that calls for the international community as a whole to co-operate in achieving its objective:

“Since June 2021, the implementation of the initiative has been smooth with significant achievements. As an indication, the Republic of Rwanda has developed and submitted a nomination dossier for Nyungwe National Park this year. Similarly, the States Parties of Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea have updated their Tentative Lists and are currently being supported in the nomination file development process.”

In the same spirit, Souayibou Varissou, Executive Director of the AWHF , reaffirmed the support of the Fund to this initiative and acknowledged that the coordinated approach is also coherent and consistent with the 2063 agenda of the African Union: the Africa we want.

Atsuyuki Oike, Ambassador of Japan reiterated their full-fledged support to UNESCO’s endeavour in the Africa region. He also emphasized that a path of coexistence between development and conservation should be sought and is thus necessary to introduce a wider perspective in connection with tourism and community development for the sake of conservation of the World Heritage properties.

Ambassadors and representatives from the beneficiary countries expressed their gratitude to the support from the UNESCO WHC and the government of Japan, while assuring their commitment to the protection, management and safeguarding of heritage.  Lance Gbagonyon, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture the Republic of Liberia, also expressed that Liberia is ready to develop a dossier. Samuel Tamba Musa, Ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone, shared the process in Sierra Leone is fully underway, and thanked the UNESCO WHC for organising online training to national heritage professionals.

Ornella Kaze, Second Counsellor of the delegation of Rwanda appreciated the support for the finalization of the nomination dossier for Nyungwe National Park and expressed the State Party’s enthusiasm for the outcome of the evaluation. Denis Nduwamungu, Second Secretary from the delegation of Republic of Burundi shared that the Burundian authorities working on the inventory of heritage have identified several potential sites. Phumzile Hlophe, Secretary General of the National Commission of the Kingdom of Eswatini mentioned that the programme has come at the right time when the country is trying to find means to have at least one site listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which will possibly boost the country’s tourism industry for the betterment of the local communities.

Boubacar Dabo, the counsellor of minister of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau recalled Guinea-Bissau’s initiative to inscribe the Archipel of Bijagos on the World Heritage List through a strong collaboration with UNESCO and various national stakeholders.  Mohamed Omar Djama, second counsellor of the Republic of Djibouti, thanked the support of the UNESCO WHC and the government of Japan for assisting Djibouti.