African economies can use ancient art pieces as a debt leverage

By Mokoko Theophane , Brazzaville.

A tons of unlisted art pieces are exposed in many international museums (New York, London, Paris etc.). It is certainly very tough to get to know how these precious pieces have been traded while we are all aware of the fact that few centuries ago, during the colonization era in Africa explorers used essential goods such as hunting guns as a commerce term.

From a more legal aspect These unregulated terms, can be considered today as an abuse since they knew that our people could not properly give an economic and financial value of their pieces. The LOUVRE museum, or the MOMA in New York for example, make billions of revenues per year. It is a huge part of something called the “cultural tourism”. It is an immensely powerful weapon for a “country branding”. Many people travel from all over the world when there is an expo/fair or an auction. These pieces are usually sold for tens of $millions sometimes even hundreds, to private clients or companies who want to diversify their assets. Recently, Mr. Emmanuel Macron admitted that many pieces must be returned to Africa. The Problem here is, these artworks require a certain type of logistics, archeologists, and special trained people. There also a problem of education.

To my view there are 3 strategies to help our countries to fully take advantage of these pieces without getting them back for now:

  • Leasing: decide a yearly leasing agreement with these museums. We can decide a nominal value they will have to pay us every year.
  • Royalties: Every single international exposition should produce dividends for our economies
  • Debt leverage: in general, something that has an intrinsic value can be used as a term of trade (money, house, land, cow, art piece). We first need to identify these pieces, find their real value on the market, and use it to leverage.

The COVID-19 crisis is hurting our fragile economies. But there is still a way out when it will come to raise money to refinance our economies. Art is one of them.


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