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Culture - Arts

More African World Heritage sites wanted

afrol News, 3 May - Far too few African sites are included on UNESCO's World Heritage list, the UN agency recognises. Sites on the prestigious list can give a boost to tourism, but the process is also costly. A detailed conservation and management plan must be approved of. Now, the UN agency aims at helping African governments by establishing a fund to "improve the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage."

The African World Heritage Fund is to be launched in South Africa on 5 May. The new fund basically is to assist African governments managing their main heritage sites, but also aims at "help boosting the number of African sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List," according to information sent to afrol News today.

Sub-Saharan Africa is severely under-represented on the prestigious UNESCO list. Despite Africa's great cultural and natural diversity, only 65 of the 812 World Heritage sites are to be found in this region. But these African sites also constitute 43 percent of sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger, meaning they are the less preserved in the world.

Under the new fund, grants are to be awarded to help African states party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention prepare national inventories of their heritage sites and prepare nomination dossiers for inscription onto the World Heritage List. "Help will also be extended to train personnel to carry out these tasks," the Fund said.

Conservation and management of heritage properties in general, including those already inscribed on the World Heritage List, would also be eligible for funding, the new agency added. "Such will also be the case with rehabilitation assistance for properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger."

South Africa has already donated 20 million rand (US$ 3.5million) to help launch the new fund, while India and Israel have also pledged contributions. The private sector is also being encouraged to contribute and is expected to become a key partner in the future.

Created as a trust under South African law, the fund is to be managed and housed for at least two years by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, which has thus far handled the feasibility study and the registration of the new fund free of charge. It will be run by a board of trustees, including two for each of the African Union's five regions and three additional members with permanent observer status.

UNESCO and the African Union will have one observer each on the board. All trustees are to be experts in heritage preservation. Their unpaid appointment is set to be for a three-year term of office, renewable once, according to the new fund. The first grants from the fund are to be made in 2007. Grant applications will be reviewed yearly.

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Rwanda succeeds including citizens in formal financial sector

afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.

Famine warning: "South Sudan is imploding"

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Ethiopia tightens its already strict anti-gay laws

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Ethiopia plans Africa's biggest dam

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