A Continent wide Development Program African Captials of Culture 

In a holistic approach, based on the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals signed in 2015 by 193 countries and its 17 objectives (SDGs), UCLG Africa wishes to propose to its members and their regional, national and international partners, a program entitled: African Capitals of Culture

African Capitals of Culture is positioning itself as a strategic tool for African local and regional governments, to support cities and their rural constituents in responding to the challenges posed by the six areas of transition set out at the 8th Africities Summit (Marrakech 2018).  African Capitals of Culture reflects the sustainable development goals recounted at the international summits of the African Union and the United Nations.

The establishment of African Capitals of Culture aims to:
• Structure, empower and network with the cultural and creative actors of the African continent;
• Develop public and private ecosystems that will make them culturally independent and economically autonomous, sustainable and viable.

The ambition of African Capitals of Culture is to affirm and promote the continent’s cultural identity and the cultural re-appropriation of Africa, by and for themselves.

Africa is the cradle of humanity. Its unparalleled cultural depth has faded. It is time to revive and regain pride in it.

Africa is the key to the future. In all areas of transition it faces issues crucial to the future of humanity and the future shape of its civilizations. These problems are of an unprecedented complexity, which is why Africa cannot borrow its solutions from anyone.

Celebrating African culture through a network of capitals means encouraging and organizing these solutions, through its youth, with a unique vitality and the singular urban cultures it gives rise to. It means restoring to Africans the awareness and control of their creative power and their destiny. Cities, with the fabric of the regional areas they create, are at the level of action that makes it possible to articulate a proximity policy and a global affirmation strategy.

Every three years, the Organizing Committee of African Capitals of Culture will highlight the creativity of the continent through its cities, not only of the city declared as the capital.
An African Capital of Culture city celebrates Africa and Africa celebrates it. The event is not solely reserved for the chosen city, but opens up to pan-African programing and the visibility of creative initiatives from other cities on the continent. All African cities, local and regional governments can therefore be partners.

The partners of an African Capital of Culture city will be able to support artists and creators from their territory, every three years. Partners in other development programs will also network with the continent’s talents and cities. In the interval between two African Capitals of Culture, the organizing committee will support the development of nine programmatic axes. The Committee’s action is therefore permanent, based on a public/private model, both in terms of structuring initiatives and financing.


The Organizing Committee of African Capitals of Culture may:
• Provide cities, interested in the African Capital of Culture label, with expertise and advice, in order to prepare their future applications by first, developing the necessary creative fabric.
• Provide cities and local and regional governments, wishing to increase their specific creative potential, with targeted advice, and connect them, where appropriate, with model operators in the sector concerned;
• Integrate their operators, administrative and elected officials into training programs and workshops;
• Integrate, after examining motivations and projects, artistic and creative initiatives into the multi-year programs managed by the organizing committee and, in this case, support their funding;
• Support the financing of the arrival of artists, creators and projects led by African local and regional governments;
• Include representatives of local and regional authorities in the discussions on cultural and creative policies.

Cultural development is not in vain: it generates many benefits. African Capitals of Culture is a program promoted at the international level. The impact, in terms of image and visibility, is significant. The tourism and economic benefits are equally important.
Participating in the momentum of African Capitals of Culture also makes it possible to structure its territory, to think strategically about urban development, to involve populations and to offer them both general and concrete perspectives: to build employment, create, reactivate or develop sectors adapted to the assets of the territory, and to connect its active youth to the dynamics of the continent.

Cities and local and regional governments can contribute to the action of the organizing committee and to the success of this great ambition for Africa:
• By relaying the institutional and general communication of the organizing committee.
• By pointing out the creative initiatives of their territories;
• By formally becoming a partner of the organizing committee;
• By providing multi-year financial and/or logistical support for projects in its territory selected by the organizing committee, which will provide additional funding;
• By providing financial and/or logistical support for artistic, cultural and creative projects to be presented as part of an African Capital of Culture, with the organizing committee and its partners providing additional funding where appropriate;
• By declaring and preparing its application, in liaison with the organizing committee, to become the next African Capital of Culture.

At the instigation of Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, General Secretary of UCLG Africa, meetings involving experts have been taking place since 2017. These have led to the development of a project framework, since the spring of 2018, and to the decision to present a program, “African Capitals of Culture,” initiated during the Africities 8 summit held in Marrakech.

On November 22, 2018, at the 8th Africities Summit, the Honorary President of African Capitals of Culture, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, along with the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the African Capitals of Culture, Adama Traoré, and the President of the Marrakech Commune, Mohamed Larbi Belcaid, formalized the birth of African Capitals of Culture and declared Marrakech as the first African Capital of Culture.

February 22, 2019: African Capitals of Culture and the Marrakech Commune signed the Marrakech 2020 Convention’s African Capital of Culture. The first edition of African Capitals of Culture will take place from January 1 to December 31, 2020.


The organizing committee of African Capitals of Culture, is piloted by a steering committee, a high council and an operational committee
The steering committee validates the general orientation of African Capitals of Culture and represents the organizing committee to public and private bodies. Chaired by Mr. Adama Traoré who appointed Mr. Khalid Tamer as its General Manager, the steering committee includes personalities recognized for their expertise and capacity for action, as well as representatives of major public organizations, in particular: Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, as representative of UCLG Africa.
The High Council brings together those recognized for their independence and for their knowledge of the continent’s issues. It is responsible for ensuring respect for the fundamental values ​​that will guide the actions of African Capitals of Culture and to encourage deep reflection of the issues.
The operational committee relays the decisions and the vision of the steering committee. It associates with representatives from the host cities editions, the chairman of the committee of sponsors and major public partners associated with the operations for African Capitals of Culture funding as well as monitoring large blocks of programs.

The organizing committee has the opportunity to tap into a resource pool of consultants, disciplinary specialists to enrich its thinking, and potentially feed the programing of an edition.