On 15 April the International Conference on "Fostering Italy-Africa relations: enhancing business and cultural exchange" took place. This significant event was jointly organized by the Fondazione Scuola dei beni e delle attività culturali and ICCROM.   

Held in the Auditorium of the National Central Library in Rome, the event aimed to cultivate connections and collaborations between Italy and African nations in the realms of cultural heritage management and creative entrepreneurship. 

Strengthening Italy Africa Ties Empowering Youth through Cultural Exchange_

The conference kicked off with insightful remarks from Vincenzo Trione, President of the Fondazione, and Aruna Francesca Maria Gujral, Director-General of ICCROM. Their words set the tone for a day of dialogue, innovation, and partnership. 

Trione’s invocation that “Identity and heritage are two words that are intertwined through secret threads…” emphasized the dynamic and fluid nature of cultural heritage. Rather than viewing it as a static relic of the past, he portrayed it as a vibrant force shaping our present and future. This perspective encourages us to explore the richness of our shared heritage and its potential for positive change. 

This sentiment was echoed by ICCROM Director-General, who highlighted the pivotal role of youth in driving positive change and innovation: “By investing in youth, we foster a more innovative, diverse, and interconnected future. By investing in our youth, we accelerate progress, social cohesion and integration and economic growth for our communities”. 

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was Alessandro De Pedys, Director General for Public and Cultural Diplomacy, and Luigi Diodati, Counsellor, Directorate General for Development Cooperation. Clemente Contestabile, Diplomatic Advisor to the Minister spoke on behalf of the Ministry of Culture. This was followed by Ambassador of South Africa, Nosipho Nausca-Jean Jezile. 

Forging a path to prosperity: Collaboration for Italy-Africa's interconnected future 

Avril Joffe, Head of the Cultural Policy and Management Department at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa delivered the keynote speech. Joffe's insights provided valuable food for thought for the two scheduled panels, each focusing on distinct yet interconnected aspects of Italy-Africa relations.  

The first panel delved into the opportunities and challenges inherent in the internationalization processes between Italy and Africa. Distinguished speakers from Italia Africa Business Week, the African Union Commission, the Africa Unit of UNESCO, Africa and Business, and the Embassy of Egypt in Italy brought diverse perspectives to the table, offering insights into how cross-border collaborations can be leveraged for mutual benefit and sustainable development. 

The second panel, dedicated to collaborative strategies for enhancing the rich cultural heritage shared by Italy and African countries, was equally engaging. Representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Civilizations, the African World Heritage Fund, the International Program in Public and Cultural Diplomacy at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and Fondazione Santagata for the Economics and Culture contributed their expertise and experience to the discussion. Together, they explored innovative approaches to preserving, promoting, and celebrating the cultural wealth that binds Italy and Africa together. 

Throughout both panels, participants exchanged ideas, shared best practices, and forged connections that have the potential to catalyze meaningful change. From fostering economic opportunities to nurturing cross-cultural understanding, the conference underscored the transformative power of collaboration in shaping a more interconnected and prosperous future for Italy and Africa alike. 


The international conference marks the beginning of the final phase of the Undertaking Business in Culture course jointly held by ICCROM and the Fondazione Scuola. After 12 weeks of training for 20 entrepreneurs under 35 from Ghana, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, and after workshop days in Mozambique, from April 15 to 24, thirteen young Italian and African entrepreneurs will be engaged in a study tour in Italy, with visits, networking sessions and workshops between Rome, Bologna and Milan. 

Official meetings 

African Partnership ICCROM

On occasion of the conference, ICCROM Director-General had the honour of conducting bilateral meetings with representatives from various African institutions, including Muhammad Juma, Chief of Africa Unit, UNESCO World Heritage Center, Purity Kiura, ICCROM Council Member and Chief Research Scientist at the National Museums of Kenya, Veronica Maduna, Head of Partnerships, African World Heritage Fund, Angela Martins, Head of Culture Division, African Union Commission.  

On 15 April the International Conference on "Fostering Italy-Africa relations: enhancing business and cultural exchange" took place. This significant event was jointly organized by the Fondazione Scuola dei beni e delle attività culturali and ICCROM.