Speech by Mr. Sibusiso Xaba chairperson of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) at the occasion of the AWHF/African union side event.

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31 Jan 2014

Your Excellencies, The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the African World Heritage Fund Board of Trustees, I, would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the entire African Union fraternity for accepting to host this important event for the African World Heritage Fund to share the success stories of the Fund and seek further support from the distinguished Heads of State and guests gathered here today.

We thank the Commission of Social Affairs Department for ensuring that the event become a reality.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the African Union for championing the course of the Fund on the continent and for its commitment in preserving the heritage of Africa in various ways. The AWHF believes that Heritage is at the heart of the continents development.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen in 2006 the African Union Heads of States Summit in Khartoum resolved to set up the African World Heritage Fund to support the conservation and protection of cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value in Africa as defined by the 1972 World Heritage Convention. We believe strongly that natural, as well as cultural, heritage have a key role to play in the development of a stable and prosperous Continent.

The Fund has three main objectives:
• To contribute to making the World Heritage list credible, representative and balanced.
• To ensure sustainable management and conservation of World Heritage sites in Africa;
• To ensure that the livelihoods of the local communities living within and around World Heritage Sites are improved through sustainable economic activities.

The efforts to make the African World Heritage list credible, representative and balanced is paying off as 14 African Sites have been inscribed on the prestigious World Heritage List since 2010. We have also seen increased efforts in the training and awareness of heritage sites managers, heritage practitioners, government officials and community members. The results are evident and testimony to this is the speedy and generous responses from African leaders to the events in Mali which impacted on such prestigious and important heritage sites such as Timbuktu.

The last five years perhaps can be regarded as the formative years for the Fund and I would like to thank the African Member States for their unrelenting support to the Fund for ensuring that we have established solid foundations for the conservation and management of our cultural and natural heritage places. With your unwavering support we have continued to serve the continent as envisioned at its establishment by the African Union and UNESCO in 2006. Also, I would like to thank all those friends of Africa who have also generously supported our dream in various ways and urge you to continue supporting the work of the Fund. Without them the success outline in annual report would not have been possible. We also thank The Director General of UNESCO Madam Irina Bokova and her organization for the support they have also given to the African World Heritage Fund as a Category 2 UNESCO institution and their support to this event.

I thank the South African government through the Department of Arts and Culture and the Development Bank of Southern Africa for hosting the AWHF on behalf of the African continent Represented here by the CEO Mr Dlamini I would also like to recognize the support which all of you, Heads of States, governments from our continent and friends from the rest of the world for that the efforts of the AWHF to succeed. The private sector which is represented here by the AWHF patron Mr Phutuma Nleko (Chairman of MTN) we also call upon you to also consider supporting our continental efforts to ensure that Africa proud heritage is protected

Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen , the African World Heritage Fund is an African institution for the African continent and for the African people. The Fund depends on financial contributions from the African Member States. At its formation it was envisioned that an Endowment Fund be established to ensure the sustainability of the AWHF and its programme. The target from the Endowment Fund is far from its intended target. Apart from the financial support the AWHF also requires your political support to ensure that its objectives are realized. We are therefore gathered here today to appeal to you to support the course of the Fund. Your generous support is therefore much needed than before to sustain the future of the Fund and its work for future generations. This event is hosted by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as an awareness campaign for the work of the AWHF and I therefore call upon her to give you her welcoming address.

Thank You


The African World Heritage Fund was established in 2006 after intensive consultation with the African Union and UNESCO. We have enjoyed the support of both organization. Given the importance of our working and the challenges our continent faces in protecting and conserving our heritage UNESCO granted AWHF a category II status in 2010. This designation clearly indicated the faith and support of UNESCO to our organization. This very event was conceived as a joint event with UNESCO. UNESCO clearly recognized that the underrepresentation of Africa on the world heritage list threatened the credibility of this very prestigious list and undermined the conservation and management of one of the remarkable and important heritage to humankind. The issue was how to strengthen AWHF in the face of increasing challenges to Africa’s heritage in the face of pressures from development for example resource exploitation, urban development, unemployment, and other issues. It is therefore my pleasure to request Mr Deputy Director-General Getachew Engida on behalf of Madam Irena Bokova the Secretary General of UNESCO to present his welcome remarks.


The AWHF apart from being run by a Board of Trustees representing the five Africa regions also has Patrons and over the years we have enjoyed the support and wisdom of Mr Phutuma Nleko as a Patron and he has been instrumental in galvanizing support to our organization and African Heritage in general. Apart from being Patron of AWHF he is also the Chairman of MTN Group Limited (MTN). MTN is a pan-African and Middle Eastern mobile telephony company operating in 21 countries. The Group has a wide foot print which extends from South Africa to Afghanistan. Countries in which MTN operates include amongst others, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote de Ivoire, Uganda, Rwanda, Cyprus, Syria, Cameroon, Iran and Botswana. MTN was founded in 1994
Phuthuma Nhleko is also the Chairman of the South African Group, Pembani Group Limited. Nhleko has served or serves on the Board of Directors of the following Companies:
Johnnic Holdings, Nedbank Group, Bidvest Group, Alexander Forbes, Old Mutual SA, Pembani Remgro Anglo plc and BP plc.

Your excellences, ladies and gentlemen let me invite Mr Phutuma to share with us a few words.