Started officially in 2013, the Annual ARSO Continental Standardisation Essay Competition is aimed at empowering the African Youth to understand the role and importance, as well as the benefits of standardisation in facilitating sustainable development in Africa. The Essay Themes are based on the Yearly African Union Themes. For this year, the theme approved by the 63rd ARSO Council in its virtual meeting on 26th November 2020 is “The role of Standardisation in promoting Arts, Culture and Heritage – The Creative Economy in Africa.” The theme is based on the AU 2021 theme as Arts, Culture, and Heritage. On 13-14 October 2020, the AU officially declared the Year 2021 as The AU Year of the Arts, Culture, and Heritage and adopted the theme for 2021 as “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building Africa We Want”. The UN had also in 2019, under RESOLUTION 74/198 (A/C.2/74/L.16/Rev.1 – E – A/C.2/74/L.16/Rev.1 -Desktop (undocs.org)) on International Year on Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021, adopted, by consensus, declared 2021 the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. Under this declaration, the UN encourages all parties to acknowledge the potential contribution of creative economy sectors to achievement of the sustainable development goals, and underscores that, 2021 marks the right moment for all stakeholders, including governments, private sectors, civil society, international organizations, academics, and cultural and creative entities to work together, exchange knowledge and experiences, build networks, and scale up collaboration (UNCTAD 2018).
Already under the Nairobi Plan of Action on Cultural and Creative Industries in Africa 2005, the African Union is calling on its member States to establish standardization and quality assurance mechanisms to ensure competitiveness and marketability of African cultural goods and services. ARSO under its ARSO TC 77 on Creative Economy is aiming to harmonise African Standards and Conformity Assessment systems to facilitate the production and trade in the creative Industry in Africa. UNESCO (2015) at its 38th session of the General Conference, declared May 5, the African World Heritage Day to promote African Heritage.
Growing in breadth, economic share, and innovation, the Cultural and Creative Industries have great potential to accelerate socio-economic change across Africa and is among the most dynamic sectors in the world economy providing new opportunities for developing countries to leapfrog into emerging high-growth areas of the world economy. The global market for creative goods has expanded substantially more than doubling in size from $208 billion in 2002 to $509 billion in 2015, and continues to make a significant contribution to world trade (UNCTAD, 2018,).
The UN eencourages all to observe the year in accordance with national priorities to raise awareness, promote cooperation and networking, encourage sharing best practices and experiences, enhance human resource capacity, promote an enabling environment at all levels as well as tackle the challenges of the creative economy.
Recognitions and Awards for the Essay Winners will be held in June 2021 during the 26th ARSO General Assembly events, the African Day of Standardisation.