Espéra G. Donouvossi

  • Univeristy of Cape CoastPhD Scholarship Holder

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Towards a coherent cultural policy in Benin through participatory approach

The mechanism in policy formulation and policy changes in the Republic of Benin remains the work of a small group of experts and government officials rather than a concrete result of social dialogue, participatory action and the protection of the access to cultural participation. The result of such exclusive approach faces the same challenges like most of African countries cultural policies documents. These challenges include, but are not limited to:

  • Incoherent and inappropriate cultural policy instruments
  • Inadequate policy models
  • Ineffective and inoperative policy strategies

Therefore, this doctoral research project aims to conduct an evidence-based assessment of current cultural policy strategies in West African countries in order to provide an innovative, structural and participatory policy design approach to support sustainable systems of governance for culture in Benin. The research project takes its roots from cultural studies in humanities while exploring new concepts and techniques in public policies development and implementation.

Through an interpretive approach to evidence-based policy development, the research project will extensively conduct a strategic analysis of various cultural policies documents from selected countries within West Africa. It will help to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of those policies. A comparative analysis of the design process of the identified cultural policies will be in order to interpret the outputs. Should cultural policies solely emanate from the work of a panel of experts and government officials or should we use participatory, bottom-up approaches and tools to ensure that the knowledge, priorities and views of stakeholders at all levels, including local communities and end-users, were considered? How are the most successful policy strategies designed and what are results of identified policies?

The research methodologies will be both qualitative and quantitative. It will adopt an interpretative applied social research methodology using the process of development public policy analysis with sociological approaches as well as strategic management. This will include among others desk research, interviews, surveys and focus group discussions.

Concretely, the outcomes will be presented in three parts:

The first part will contain an extensive history(ies) and stories related to past cultural policies designed in Benin. The thesis will extensively and exhaustively document the history of the cultural policies in Benin.

The second part will include a performance review of Benin cultural strategies since its independence in 1960 till 2020 outlining the concrete positive and negative impact of its implementation.

The third part will present a policy document with strategic objectives and policy measures in order to adopt structural, operational and functional changes for recommendable policy changes through participatory and stakeholder-based policy design approach.



Espera G. Donouvossi holds a Master’s degree from the Department of Science of Language and Communication at University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin. Between 2007 and 2014 he lived and worked in South Africa before joining the Unesco Chair in Cultural Policy and Management at University of Arts, Belgrade in Serbia. In 2018 he completed a joint Master study program in Cultural Projects and Institutions Management in cooperation with University of Lumière, Lyon 2 in France. His Master thesis researched and recommended advocacy and management strategies for the restitution of Benin’s cultural heritage from French museums.

Currently, Espera is a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana and the University of Hildesheim in Germany where he is exploring structural and participatory policy design to support sustainable systems of governance for culture in Benin. With over 10 years of experience working in the African cultural sector, he has been deeply involved in establishing, developing and coordinating several cultural organizations and programmes in a fulltime capacity in mainly African Countries. He is driven by a great passion for the African cultural and creative industries and his personal goal is to become an expert in cultural policy issues.