UNESCO is committed to strengthening the management of African World Heritage sites by building the capacity of African World Heritage site managers – as embodied by its newly-launched Flagship Programme on “Fostering Cultural Heritage and Capacity Development” in Africa.
In line with this Flagship Programme, the Interim Committee of the African Site Managers Network met in Abomey (Benin) from 22 to 23 November 2021 as a first step towards the creation of a network of UNESCO World Heritage site managers. This first meeting of the Interim Committee was organized by UNESCO, in partnership with the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and Ecole du patrimoine africain (EPA).
The fifteen Interim Committee members represent the five sub-regions of the African continent (Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Northern Africa, Southern Africa and Western Africa), and were joined by five facilitators. The committee members stressed the importance of building a common vision of World Heritage on the African continent, particularly through the creation of a network of UNESCO World Heritage site managers. This effort is in line with the UNESCO World Heritage African Regional Action Plan (2021-2027).
During the two-day discussion, the Interim Committee elected the Bureau to lead its work for one year. Mr Riadh Hadj Said, site manager of Medina of Sousse (Tunisia), was elected as the Chair, Mr El Boukahri Ben Essayouti, site manager of Timbuktu (Mali), was elected as the Secretary and Ms Mercy Mbogelah, site manager of Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (United Republic of Tanzania), was elected as the Treasurer. The Interim Committee also charted the roadmap toward the official launch of the African Site Managers Network on 5 May 2022, marking African World Heritage Day and the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.