African Market, the hub for artifacts and African culture
By: A Correspondent
The arts, craft and culture industry in the country has immense potential to contribute to the growth of the economy, yet not much attention is being given to the sector.
If properly handled, according to a strategic document put together by the Ministry of Trade, the sector could help boost revenue accruing from non-traditional exports (NTE) through the handicraft trade to generate an average of 10 jobs for every $2,000 earned.
The artifacts industry over the years has become an avenue for creating employment for rural people by helping to curb the increasing incidence of rural-urban migration and support those with skills in the arts and craft to contribute their quota to the development of the tourism industry.
The industry has the capacity to attract foreign tourists into the country for purposes of generating foreign exchange for the development of the economy.
Companies in Africa have strived to bridge the development gap between them and the rest of the world through cultural re-awakening by commercialising African artefacts and other cultural products.
One African company that has contributed immensely to the cultural development drive in Ghana and beyond is the African Arts and Culture Development Company Limited (AACD), popularly called “African Market” located at Osu, the heart of the capital, Accra.
AACD was established in April, 2001, after 20 years of research and development into the artifacts industry led by the Founder and Chief Executive of the Company, Mr. Stanley Felten, who unearthed the potentials of artefacts in the country and what the continent could stand to benefit from this cultural innovation and revolution.
African Market has on display over 24,000 different exotic and modern African artifacts.
AACD African Market is more of an institution that a market, because it harnesses great minds to work in a congenial atmosphere needed to promote artifacts made in Africa by Africans with the corporate objective of adding a touch of African sophistication to every home or office in the world.
The shop showcases home furnishings, clothing, beads, dolls, paintings and souvenirs. There are a collection of artifacts from Egypt’s pyramids, leather and bronze from Nigeria, raffia and copper from Zimbabwe, silver and basket from Niger and Ethiopia, gold from Ghana and South Africa, Bronze and calabash from Burkina Faso, which are all sold at affordable prices and on flexible payment terms.
The shop has made provision for restaurant services that deliver African delicacies.
The company has made inroads into the local market by organizing gift fairs since 2005, with the support of other exhibitors from Ghana and some neighbouring countries to showcase collections of African artifacts.
African Market has carved a niche for itself in the world market through participation in various international fairs over the years in Bukina Faso, Ethiopia, Italy, Germany, France, Britain, France and the US.
To appreciate this noble achievement, the former Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraky, in 2001 described the African Market as a tourist attraction and a breakthrough for arts and culture in Africa and beyond.
Since its inception, AACD African Market has sought to improve upon the lot of people who ate unfortunate or deprived in the society. Therefore, the company has over the years employed deprived individuals in the rural areas, creating over 1,000 jobs for Ghana’s youth.
The Chief Executive of AACD, Stanley Felten, has stated that in order to develop and sustain the art, craft and handicraft industry in Ghana, those involved in the business should be given the required financial packages needed to equip them to deliver finished products that meet international standards and combat competition in the industry.
In fulfillment of this objective, African Market organizers periodic training toe manufactures to update their skills in current handicraft and artwork concepts to enable them to meet the required quality standards in the industry.
To this end, Felten has noted that “hardworking artisans who ensure that our homes and offices are well adorned with African carvings are properly remunerated”.
The company has contributed financially to the national tourism awards since 2002 and donated occasionally to such orphanages as Osu Children’s Home, as part of its corporate social responsibility by bettering the plight of the underprivileged in society.
As the nation celebrates the World Tourism Day, which is slated for September 27, 2009, the management of AACD wishes to make a clarion call on the Government and People of Ghana to give the necessary prominence to this important industry in the economic equation and encourage individuals and organisations to invest in the industry in order to fuel a surge in production and patronage of artifacts for tourism development.
Winning the collective fight towards economic freedom lends support to the concluding part of the commission for Africa’s report which states explicitly that “bold comprehensive action on a scale needed to meet the challenges that Africa faces can only be done through a new kind of partnership; thus, we suggest a more direct, bolder approach; and that is to bring African products to the doorstep of world consumers”.
As our leaders and people on the continent meet and deliberate on the fortunes of tourism during the activities marking the World Tourism Day, AACD African Market wishes everyone the best of everything.
Daily Graphic - page: 35 Monday, September 28, 2009