On 31 January, a culture-focused “Heritage Hub” will officially open its doors to young Africans in Kigali, Rwanda. Heritage Hubs are knowledge-based innovation centers that cultivate youth engagement, entrepreneurship, and business development skills through creative arts and partnership with Africa’s heritage protection and promotion community.
The Rwanda Heritage Hub is a joint initiative of Rome-based ICCROM (the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) and Inteko y’Umuco–Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy (RCHA).
The Rwanda Heritage Hub will be a starting ground for stimulating cultural heritage-related businesses, providing opportunities for gaining skills and capacities, and will serve as a home base for regional heritage-related communications.
Rwanda is rich in cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. At the same time, its creative industries are expanding and gaining recognition. Over the last decade, the country’s growing economy has helped boost its cultural tourism. However, a more holistic approach is needed to ensure long-term economic and social development and protect Rwanda’s cultural heritage.
The 31 January high-level kick-off event will engage Ms Rosemary Mbabazi, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and Culture, and Mr Bruno Puggia, Honorary Consul of Italy in Kigali (Rwanda), and Mr Webber Ndoro, Director-General of ICCROM, will speak.
“The ICCROM Heritage Hub initiative is spreading quickly throughout Africa due to its tangible positive impacts on communities. We are happy that Rwandan youth will be able to benefit from this movement. We thank the Government of Rwanda through the Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy for their eagerness to support Rwandan youth in harnessing cultural heritage for great social and economic benefits,” stated Mr Ndoro.
On 28 November 2022, the Rwanda Heritage Hub launched its first event – the “Incubation Laboratory” – which initiated a long-term project to support forty Rwandan youth’s ventures into digital entrepreneurship based on promoting cultural heritage and developing innovative products. These young people are taking part in training on emerging digital technologies, successful business practices, and the basics of Rwandan cultural heritage and cultural heritage management. The heritage-related courses include excursions to heritage sites to gain on-the-ground knowledge. These skills and experiences will benefit the participants economically and their local cultural heritage.
Developing these centralized spaces to foster young people’s ability to benefit from their cultural heritage is a core component of the ICCROM flagship programme “Youth.Heritage.Africa.” The programme was born from the belief that heritage is a source of social and economic opportunity for African youth.
The Rwanda Heritage Hub is one of several ICCROM Heritage Hubs established in four African countries – Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa – with more on the way. The goal is to create economic value, invest in social and human capital, and foster innovation and creativity within the heritage sector in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. These hubs are imaginative, interactive spaces intended to connect the younger generation and youth organizations with strategies and initiatives to make Africa’s heritage an effective source of economic and social opportunity for their benefit.