The 9th Edition of the African Arts and Crafts (AFAC) Expo 2016, organised by National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), a Parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, has opened in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, with the hope that this year's edition will promote the socio-economic integration and investment of the African Region.
The AFAC Expo opening ceremony held at the Arts and Crafts Village, Cadastral Zone, Abuja, on Thursday, 17th November, 2016, with the theme: “African Arts and Crafts: A Catalyst for Investment in the Nigerian Creative Industries”, is a platform that brings all African arts and craftsmen together to showcase their creative ingenuity.
Declaring the Expo open, the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, commended the organizers, for working assiduously towards the success of the event, as he echoed its importance, having attracted the participation of relevant stakeholders and several nations of the world, bringing to the fore the economic opportunities that abound in the creative industries, adding that Expo’s potentials should be properly harnessed to create employment, reduce poverty, rural-urban drift, arrest youth restiveness and many other societal vices.
Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, said the theme was not only apt but timely, as it was the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s desire to diversify the productive capacity of Nigeria's economy.
The Minister also informed the august gathering that only a few months ago, his Ministry signed an MoU with the British Council, in Edinburgh, United Kingdom and Chief Tony Elumelu Foundation in Nigeria to further explore ways that the potentials of the creative industries can be harnessed for economic empowerment.
He, therefore, urged both private individuals and corporate bodies to look inward, embrace and partner with the sector to enhance its economic growth, especially at this time of the country's renewed effort in promoting the non-oil sector and diversification of the economy through the zero oil economic policy.
Earlier, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Mrs. Dayo Keshi, in her Welcome Address, had highlighted the prospects of the 2016 Expo of emphatically showcasing elements of good product design, finishing, packaging, and presentation, aimed at global market standards.
Continuing, Mrs. Keshi re-emphasized the relevance of AFAC as a platform that brings together craftsmen from across the nation as well as the African Region and beyond to expand and grow the business of the Arts and Crafts Industry, share ideas and network with other practitioners in all the areas that relate to their areas of competence, such as, production, marketing, packaging, and presentation techniques, and meet and benefit from prospective investors amongst many other benefits.
Speaking to the investors and why they should invest in the Arts and Crafts industry, the NCAC boss reiterated that investing in arts and crafts brings “high and rapid return on investment, brand recognition to businesses, foreign exchange earnings and preservation of our heritage, promotion of local and regional development, development of local skills and talents”, among other benefits.
In his goodwill message, Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, was of the opinion that despite the details of arts and crafts, what was important to Nigerians was how these creative works of arts could translate to creating an alternative to oil, economic diversity and contribute to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He lent his voice in congratulating NCAC for organising the 9th edition of AFAC, assuring that the Senate Committee on Culture would work to assist all the Parastatals under it through legislation to make them function optimally and create wealth and entrepreneurship.
The 2016 AFAC opening ceremony was well attended by foreign culture diplomats and ambassadors to Nigeria and stakeholders in the culture sector, notable among them were, Mrs. Ann Scott (High Commissioner of Jamaica to Nigeria); Hideki Sakamoto (First Secretary, Japan Embassy); Dep Qinjian (China Cultural Centre in Nigeria); Saeed Omidi (Embassy of Iran); Susan Angelobeda (Embassy of South Sudan); Mrs. Blandine Ndo (Embassy of Bukina Faso); as well as Dr. Lola Nkamayang (Embassy of Cameroon).
Others were Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama (Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism); Ambassador Joe Keshi (husband of the D-G, NCAC); Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma (Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO)); Mrs. Salley Mbanefo (Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC)); Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe (Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC)); Mr. Abdullahi Muku (Director-General, National Gallery of Art (NGA); Alhaji Ibrahim Muazu (Executive Secretary, Kano State History and Culture Bureau); Dr. Aliyu Salau Director (Katsina State History and Culture Bureau); Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh (Deputy Director and SA to ES, NICO); Mrs. Franca Okoro (Asst. Director, Orientation, NICO), among others.
The 9th edition of AFAC Expo will last till Thursday, 24th November, 2016.
NICO HQ, Abuja