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By: Amira Noshokaty
‘It’s the dream of every carpenter is to own a Fabrica and I thank you for that, and for all the ideas you gave us,’ stated Mokhtar, the young carpenter as he showcased his latest wood item. The shelves/side table are lego like, can be assembled differently and have no visible nails to show.
Last week, the British Council in Cairo launched a very unique exhibition with a rather long title that sums it all up: Design, Brand, Craft Exhibition by CLUSTER and Peacock for Arts is one of the projects under the Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies (DICE) programme.
DICE supports the development of creative and social enterprises in the UK and five key emerging economies: Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and South Africa.
Aiming to foster inclusive growth and progress on UN Sustainable Development Goals, Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies will take an innovative, cross-sectoral approach that draws on UK expertise in creative and social economies.
The workshop redefines creative industry, according to Omar Nagati, founding partner of CLUSTER, a grouping of architects and urban planners. In an opening speech he highlighted two such workshops implemented in Fayoum and Ard El-Lewa entailing collaboration between college students and experienced craftsmen and the aim to go green. FAODA Association in Fayoum and Hawamish in Ard El-Lewa (rural Cairo) helped coordinate aspects of the workshop programme.
The results were amazing. Among the chairs, desks and various modern home accessories, a crib stood out.
The crib, made from palm leaves rather than traditional bamboo, was the brain child of Shaimaa Ismail, interior designer and fresh graduate in 2019 from Sixth of October University in applied arts.
The workshop was held in Al-Agameein village in Fayoum governorate, where they used to make a whole chair without using a single nail. Such designs can be made without having to import anything.
"‘I love curved lines, because we are all curved in shape. You will never find a sharp angle in nature, so I used the idea that palm leaves are natural materials and will eventually curve up in time, and I created a crib, which is curved, and will be sustainable for exactly the time that the child will need it until the child outgrows it,’ Ismail told Ahram Online.
Ismail added how much she learnt from her firsthand experience with craftsmen with whom she was able to find a language based on trust in their experience while following through with agreed upon new design.
To Dalia Salem, founder of Peacock, which is an entity that introduces art in public places through partnership with artists and designers, the idea was clear. "I was very interested in the idea of creative industries with functionality. I read the call for proposals, and we partnered with the testing and marketing and design, so that we are sure that the final product is connected to the market." "CLUSTER have great experience in architecture, and urban planning,” she said.
Fayoum is a culturally rich governorate close to Cairo. With CLUSTER, Peacock also implemented projects in Ard El-Lewa.
"They didn’t know they can do more. So we introduced the workshop," Salem added.
A separate workshop in Ard El-Lewa was held on wood.
"Through Fabrica (a small wood factory located in Ard El-Lewa), we were able to introduce new wooden forms and units that you assemble."
"We are currently thinking of taking it a step further by connecting with Concept stores, to see how the market can fit the needs of Egyptian consumers," Salem added.
British Department for International Trade
By British High Commissioner to Ghana His Excellency Iain Walker
When it comes to building a more prosperous future, the UK-Ghana partnership is driving the agenda at the UK-Africa Investment Summit.
Ghana is changing the narrative around the future of the African Continent. Last year, the nation captured international headlines and energised the global African Diaspora through the ‘Year of Return’.
I am delighted that thousands came from the UK to be a part of the campaign; tourism from the UK was up 24%. The presence of so many Brit-Ghanaian influencers has fostered even stronger ties with Ghana. Brit-Ghanaians were front and centre at the major music festivals that took place in Accra over Christmas. The real story of Ghana is out there - one of aspiration, ambition and energy, and a journey to greater economic self-reliance.
The UK Government shares His Excellency President Akufo-Addo’s ‘Beyond Aid’ vision for Africa. The Continent has 8 of the 15 fastest growing economies in the world but currently receives less than 4% of foreign direct investment. It is in all our interests to change this paradigm.
A Major Milestone
Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London. The Summit brings together UK and African businesses, African leaders, international institutions and young entrepreneurs. It is the platform for creating new partnerships to deliver more investment, jobs and growth to benefit people across Africa and the UK.
Ghana is driving the agenda for how Africa can meet its needs and ambitions: locating the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat in Accra is recognition of Ghanaian leadership. When they meet in London, His Excellency The President and the Prime Minister will discuss the future of the UK-Ghana prosperity partnership that is accelerating ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’, with economic development, investment and jobs at its core.
Our 0.7% of GNI (Gross National Income) spend on development is smarter than ever. A new Agricultural Transformation Programme will develop new agriculture markets and climate resilience; our Jobs & Economic Transformation Programme is attracting investment and creating jobs in key industrial sectors; and new programmes are supporting urban infrastructure development, deepening financial markets, improving land governance and helping women entrepreneurs.
A UK-Ghana Partnership Focused on Action
Our deeds matter more than our words. We have applied this principle to the creation of the UK-Ghana Business Council (UKGBC), an economic forum co-chaired by His Excellency The Vice President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and UK Ministers.
The UKGBC is driving the partnership around six priority sectors (financial services, agro-processing, extractives, garments, digital and pharmaceuticals); bringing a clear focus to the partnership; and shaping an integrated offer that brings together UK firms, capital and expertise.
Global finance, through The City of London, is crowding in more investment; and supporting innovation, such as the first London-listed ‘Cedi Bond’. The creation of a new partnership between the London Stock Exchange and the Ghana Stock Exchange will support Ghana’s ambition to secure ‘emerging market’ status and become a hub for financial services.
Bilateral trade is worth £1.3 billion, up 21% on last year. Significantly, we are seeing Ghana export more goods and services to the UK (up 55%) – a positive sign of Ghana’s economic transformation and export-orientated growth.
UK firms are taking notice, and we are backing them through $1billion of credit guarantees from UK Export Finance. I’m delighted that this facility is fully utilised in Ghana, including: $400 million for the Offshore Cape Three Points project by GE Oil and Gas UK; and recently the expansion of Kumasi Airport and upgrading Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital by Contracta UK.
There are many exciting UK-led projects on the horizon, including Africa’s first green loan to Aqua Africa to bring UK-designed technology to deliver clean drinking water; and work by Ordnance Survey to create a full-scale digital map of Ghana, and digitalise the land registry system.
Beyond the European Union
Our trading relationship is even more important as we look beyond the European Union and finalise the EU Withdrawal Agreement on 31 January. I am pleased that we can continue to apply the same trading arrangements with Ghana for the duration of the Implementation Period, i.e. until 31 December 2020.
Before then, we must further trade policy discussions to ensure we maintain Ghana’s duty-free and quota-free access to the UK in 2021 and beyond. This will protect Ghanaian jobs and support foreign investment.
I am confident about the future of the UK-Ghana relationship and of our ambition to become the investment partner of choice for Africa.
Whichever way you look at it, Ghana is at the centre of the development of the African Continent, and the UK-Ghana partnership offers a blueprint. The UK-Africa Investment Summit is the next big step forward on that journey.