Mozambique’s Pioneering Cultural Management Information System takes another step forward


The MDG-F Joint Programme for Strengthening the Cultural and Creative Industries and Inclusive Polices in Mozambique recently supported the 6th edition of the National Cultural Festival through UNESCO. The event, implemented by the Ministry of Culture, took place from 28 July to 1 August in Chimoio, the capital city of Manica province. The festival was held in the context of 2010 as the ‘International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures’, which recognises the power of culture as a factor for mutual understanding, peace and sustainable development.

UNESCO organized a series of seminars at the festival, one of which was on the establishment of the Cultural Management Information System of Mozambique (CMIS). Currently in Mozambique there is no consolidated information system that brings together all the data about the cultural sector in one place. The development of the CMIS will ensure Mozambique’s ability to facilitate the collection and analysis of relevant data, monitor culture sector developments, and provide a public window to Mozambique’s rich cultural diversity. This will aid the process of formulating and evaluating cultural policies, promote investment in the sector and enable open and transparent access to information between institutions, researchers, artists and the general public. Equally, it will contribute to the promotion of cultural tourism, one of the key ways in which the creative sector cultivates wealth and thus contributes to the Millennium Development Goals.

Fifty-four delegates who included culture officials representing each of the eleven provinces in the country were introduced to the CMIS by Alfonso Castellanos Ribot, the UNESCO consultant who is helping with its design and implementation. Mr Ribot, who is from Mexico, is an expert in the field of Cultural Information Systems and has successfully implemented Mexico’s CMIS. Mr Ribot began by introducing delegates to the concept of the CMIS and presenting the results of the initial workshop which took place in March in Maputo. He went on to cover issues such as ‘What are cultural statistics? Why are they important?’ and ‘How will the CMIS help participants in their everyday work?’.

Emphasis was placed on the fact that there was a big difference in keeping information stored on an excel spreadsheet or having it freely available on the CMIS, which will be internet based. For example the CMIS will be able to contain active links which can display short video clips of a particular cultural activity, such as footage of a dance performance or a band playing. He stressed that one of the most important components in the long term success of the CMIS was its continuity and sustainability, and it was important that all those involved in its creation ensure it is continually updated and therefore remains relevant after the official launch, later this year.

It was agreed amongst the delegates that the difficulty with culture was in measuring its impact. As Mr Ribot noted, “Often times cultural institutions don’t have the wherewithal to be able to say to potential donors that a dollar invested in culture translates into increased well being, translates into improved social cohesion and translates into higher self esteem.” The CMIS will help in this area by proving the ‘worth’ of culture via statistics, therefore demonstrating concretely how culture contributes to socio-economic development. This type of information will prove very useful for institutions who are considering financing cultural activities in Mozambique.

The week after the seminar at the Cultural Festival, the second technical workshop related to the CMIS took place in Maputo. Between 2 to 6 August the participants, made up of cultural professionals and representatives of various ministries and cultural institutions, were trained by Mr Ribot in the operation of the internet platform that will form the base of the CMIS. Much progress was made in defining the categories more clearly, inputting initial information and, importantly, allocating responsibility for the categories to specific institutions.

Workshop participant Quito Tembe, founder of Iodine Productions, a Maputo based company that specialises in artistic and cultural promotion elaborated on how the system would change the way his company works: “Iodine produces cultural and educational activities on a community level, as well as intercultural exchanges, technical and artistic training and workshops. One of the greatest advantages of the CMIS is the de-centralization of our artistic and cultural activities, because through this system I can already think of developing projects in various parts of the country. Using the database I can find out about possible locations and useful information to develop a concrete project.” Mr Tembe also spoke of the wider significance of the system for the country, stating “This system has arrived at just the right time in Mozambique, and is a truly a concrete action towards our cultural development.”

Chila Smith Lino, director of Marketing and Innovation at CEDARTE, a Mozambican NGO which works to promote the sustainable development of the Mozambican craft sector saw big strides forward in the recognition of the people her organization supports: “The artisan will cease to be anonymous and business opportunities will be created for them, enabling them to improve their living conditions, as well as their families’ and communities.”

The overall feeling amongst all involved is one of enthusiasm and excitement about the possibilities that the establishment of the CMIS represents. The CMIS will not only present a panorama of Mozambique’s cultural life to the world, but also crucially enable cross cultural cooperation and knowledge sharing on a national level. Cultural practitioners and officials will be able to exchange ideas and best practices and be aware of what their counterparts all over the country are doing, which could lead to new and exciting networks and partnerships being formed. The main information gathering activity will take place from August to October, with the CMIS expected to launch in November. Institutions involved include: Ministry of Culture, National Institute of Statistics (INE), National Institute of Books and Discs (INLD), National Institute of Audiovisuals and Cinematography (INAC), Provincial Directorates of Culture, the National Association of Mozambican Musicians, the Association of Mozambican Authors (SOMAS), the Center for Craft Development (CEDARTE), the National Institute for Socio-cultural Research (ARPAC) and various Museums.

The development of a CMIS is a huge step for the cultural and creative industries in Mozambique and is set to radically change the way people work with cultural information and demonstrate its socio-economic value for the development of Mozambique. As Dr. Claudia Harvey, Director UNESCO Maputo states “As far as we are aware, Mozambique is the first country in Africa to be piloting this system, and therefore it will not only be for Mozambique, but eventually become an example for other parts of the continent.” Mozambique can be justifiably proud of being the pioneer in Africa of such a system, and the results of its implementation in November are eagerly awaited by all who are involved in the cultural industries.

For more information contact Moira Welch (m [dot] welch [at] unesco [dot] org), Advocacy and Communications Senior Assistant, MDG-F Joint Programme on Strengthening Cultural and Creative Industries and Inclusive Policies in Mozambique.

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