- 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.
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.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.