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As the result of unprecedented cooperation between France Volontaires, the French Institute, the French Development Agency and the French Civic Service Agency, Africa2020 Season involved 11 African volunteers from 11 countries on civic service missions in cultural and scientific organisations in France.

The objective of Africa2020 Season was to talk about Africa’s place in the world, yesterday, today and especially tomorrow as the continent of the future. Africa in the 21st century is a continent of inspiring and committed youth. Within the framework of Africa2020 Season, 11 volunteers from 11 different countries got involved with the French Civic Service in 11 French cultural organisations that had a project with the Africa2020 label.

The project


Africa2020 Season was an invitation to look at and understand the world from an African perspective. It was therefore a pan-African and multidisciplinary project, focusing on innovation in the arts, science, technology, entrepreneurship and economics. Education was also at the heart of the programme, with a view to sharing and passing on knowledge. This Season promoted mobility, spotlights women and targeted young people as a priority. The ambition of Africa2020 Season was to create a global emancipation movement through a sustainable commitment built around the values of citizenship. In this spirit, it was decided by the Commissioner General, Mrs N’Goné Fall, at France Volontaires’s suggestion, to encourage young Africans involved in different organisations in their countries to volunteer in France within the framework of the Civic Service under the principle of reciprocity.

The Mentoring Programme, implemented by France Volontaires, was carried out in unprecedented cooperation with the French Institute, the French Development Agency and the French Civic Service Agency. A subsidy agreement linked the French Institute and France Volontaires.


The Africa2020 Season team had identified about fifteen French cultural organisations with an Africa2020-labelled project that were potentially interested in hosting African volunteers. In the end, 11 were selected on the basis of the proposed hosting project:

  • La Condition Publique (Roubaix)
  • Pays d’Apt African Film Festival
  • Le Quartz (Brest)
  • L’Echangeur (Château-Thierry)
  • Universcience (Paris)
  • Festival Passages/Espace Bernard Marie Koltès (Metz)
  • Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes)
  • Paul Eluard Museum (Saint-Denis)
  • Musée les Abattoirs (Toulouse)
  • Cité du Design (Saint Etienne)
  • Forum des Images (Paris),

France Volontaires had identified 19 African cultural organisations in 12 countries that might be interested in enabling a young person to have this experience in France and then get involved in a relevant project upon his/her return. Volunteering was seen as both a commitment and a career path. In the end, 11 candidates proposed by 10 dispatching organisations from 10 different countries were selected:

  • Burkina: Les Récréatrales
  • Cameroon: Doual’Art
  • Congo: Gare aux Pieds Nus
  • Ghana: Exit Frame
  • Guinea: La Muse association
  • Mali: Wokloni/BlonBa
  • Morocco: Le Cube
  • Senegal: Film Femmes Afrique association
  • Chad: Chad Slam Collective
  • Togo: Les Archimèdes

Due to the pandemic, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs suspended the sending and receiving of volunteers in March 2020. On 15 May 2020, Africa2020 Season, which was originally scheduled to start in June, was postponed to December 2020 and ended in July 2021. The launch of the Mentoring Programme was effectively rescheduled for the arrival of volunteers in December 2020 and January 2021.

The length of the missions varied according to their content and the activity of the host organisations, and they lasted between 6 and 10 months, with an average duration of 7.7 months.

During their missions, the volunteers took part in:

  • Organising Africa2020-labelled events (welcoming the public, supporting speakers, helping to organise accommodation and transport for guests, distributing communication tools)
  • Artistic assistance (in particular facilitating relations and exchanges with the artists)
  • Design and implementation of cultural mediation initiatives (supervising youth juries, establishing links between artists and students, monitoring art workshops, distributing various communication materials).
  • Managing relations with partner associations
  • Designing and implementing communication initiatives (promoting initiatives through different media).
  • Getting the diaspora involved

The specific context of the pandemic required great flexibility in the missions. Thinking about missions that meet the needs of the organisation and the volunteer’s potential is also an important integration driver.

Tripartite partnership agreements were signed between France Volontaires, the French host organisations and the African dispatching organisations.

The 11 volunteers were under civic service status within the framework of France Volontaires’ accreditation under the intermediation principle, which enables volunteers to be placed within partner organisations.

Project objectives

Africa2020 Season was based on three pillars, one of which was the Education Component. It was mainly dedicated to young people. Thus, the Africa2020 Mentoring Programme aimed to:

  • Offer a framework of mobility to young Africans committed to their countries to participate in the implementation of Africa2020 Season and to describe on a daily basis what Africa is really like to various audiences.
  • Enable French cultural establishments to welcome young Africans into their teams in order to experience the presence of Africa over a longer period of time than the events, to share practices and to develop partnerships.

Action levers

  • Identifying host organisations and mission content in conjunction with the Africa2020 Season team
  • Identifying African dispatching organisations and proposing candidates for a future project
  • Identifying volunteers
  • Supporting volunteers with administrative procedures
  • Preparation for departure in each country by the Volunteering Centres
  • Welcome on arrival with a 2-day course in early January 2021 at France Volontaires’s headquarters to:
    – Create a group by enabling volunteers to get to know each other – Understand the status of the Civic Service Volunteer
    – Envisage the cultural encounter
    – Understand the Africa2020 Season and the place of volunteering
    – Understand their place within the host structure
  • Monitoring volunteers. Tutoring was provided by the host organisations. France Volontaires organised regular group and individual distance learning sessions for the volunteers, individual sessions with the tutors, and visits to the volunteers on site
  • Gathering in May 2021 in Marseille to enable the volunteers to shoot and edit their video portraits, meet cultural stakeholders and organisations involved in Africa2020 and prepare for their future projects, in particular through a training course on the analysis of their achievements and structuring their ‘future project’.
  • Promotional event. France Volontaires, in collaboration with the French Institute and with the technical support of MakeSense Africa, organised an online feedback and dissemination event on 29 September: ‘Volunteering, commitment and culture’. There were speeches by the Chairwoman of the French Institute & Ambassador for French foreign cultural policy, by the Chairwoman of the French Civic Service Agency, by the General Commissioner of the Africa2020 Season and by volunteers and host organisations and a round table based on three questions (Why host foreign volunteers in the cultural field? What resources should be deployed? What are the benefits of the experience?).


The benefits mentioned by the volunteers at the end of mission are the following:

  • Learning about other methods of work, mediation and transmission of culture.
  • Finding out the internal workings of a cultural institution in France.
  • Identifying national and international networks surrounding the cultural field (links, collaboration methods and funding) and developing their contacts.
  • Gaining a broader view of African cultural scenes beyond their country or regional space.
  • Developing new skills (facilitating online meetings, managing schedules, using IT tools, setting up projects and organising events).
  • Gaining independence and developing self-confidence.

By hosting volunteers, the host organisations have:

  • Discovered new cultures by experiencing them on a daily basis, becoming aware that a culture is not necessarily understood despite having been to the country several times.
  • Gained a better understanding of a country from which they hosted several artists. The volunteer is then a link. He or she enables better mutual understanding of certain contexts.

Of the 11 volunteers, 5 took up employment in the first few months following their return, and 4 resumed their studies, some of which were directly related to the cultural field.


  1. French Institute
  2. French Development Agency
  3. French Civic Service Agency
  4. French organisations that hosted the volunteers: La Condition Publique (Roubaix), Festival des Cinémas d’Afrique du Pays d’Apt, Le Quartz (Brest), L’Echangeur (Château-Thierry), Universcience (Paris), Festival Passages/Espace Bernard Marie Koltès (Metz), Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes), Musée Paul Eluard (Saint-Denis), Musée les Abattoirs (Toulouse), Cité du Design (Saint Etienne), Forum des Images (Paris)
  5. African organisations that provided the volunteers: Les Récréatrales (Ouagadougou), Doual’Art (Douala), Gare aux Pieds Nus (Brazzaville), Exit Frame (Koumassi), La Muse (Conakry), Le Cube (Rabat), Wokloni/BlonBa (Bamako), Films Femmes Afrique (Dakar), Collectif Tchad Slam (N’dajmena), Les Archimèdes (Lomé)Structures françaises ayant accueilli les volontaires : La Condition Publique (Roubaix), Festival des Cinémas d’Afrique du Pays d’Apt, Le Quartz (Brest), L’Echangeur (Château-Thierry), Universcience (Paris), Festival Passages / Espace Bernard Marie Koltès (Metz), Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes), Musée Paul Eluard (Saint-Denis), Musée les Abattoirs (Toulouse), Cité du Design (Saint Etienne), Forum des Images (Paris).