My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin interview

My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin interview

My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin

 

Who is Mr. Wale Aboderin?

My name is Wale Aboderin, a Nigerian businessman and chairman of PUNCH, Nigeria’s leading newspaper. We publish three print newspapers and two digital newspapers. We also run four major print presses in Nigeria. We have very strong pro-public credentials because of our support for democracy, during the fight against military rule and afterwards, and our campaigns for social justice.

I trained as a commercial pilot at the Burnside-Ott Flying School, Florida, United States. I was appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2012. But I have been involved in the newspaper business for decades. PUNCH was co-founded by my father and he introduced me to the business early. And this experience has helped in fashioning a vision that led to some great changes in the editorial quality, management and its fortunes.

I am also involved in music and sports. I am the founder and owner of Dolphins Basketball Club, a leading African female basketball club, with local and continental honours. I used to be the former chairman of the Lagos State Basketball Association and I am a former member of the Nigerian Handball Federation.

How do you feel about your election as the new chair of the African Media Initiative?

I feel humbled and pleased with this new responsibility, although it comes with the challenges of promoting the vision of a fantastic organization whose potential should not be abridged by limited resources. Thank you for inviting me to join the battle for a strengthened media landscape in Africa.  I have always succeeded in my ventures. I am here to ensure AMI does not fail its mission of transforming the media landscape in Africa.

What is your vision for the organization?

I have always believed that the biggest resource in any organization is human capital and the biggest investment is human development. My people perish for lack of knowledge, says the Good Book. Since I joined AMI board, I have never regretted being part of this beautiful project. The more I stayed, the more I like the organization’s mandate. It is important that we invest in human capital. Punch has already become too big in Nigeria and little by little we have been looking for an opportunity to go regional and AMI is empowering me to go around these countries and push for the initiatives developed by AMI. These trips will help me to rediscover Africa and see the opportunities on the continent.

My vision, to start with, is to focus on making AMI a better and greater organization. If you have a fine dress, everybody will see the missing button. So, I don’t want to see AMI staff as the missing button. I want you people to be engaged and know that there is something great to be done. The other part of the vision is to partner with others to develop the capacity of journalists and media companies across Africa. PUNCH is celebrated for its integrity and had I not seen the same integrity in the leadership and vision of AMI, I wouldn’t have accepted to be part of the project.

I insist that print publishers can still survive but we can’t just sit back and wait for new readers to emerge. It’s time to ‘reinvent the wheel’. 

What do you see as the greatest challenges for African media in the 21st century and what are your thoughts on the future of print media?

Ah! The greatest challenge in this century is digital disruption. The lack of true press freedom is also a big challenge in several places in Africa. But I expect this to become less of a problem as we move forward and the ideals of democracy spread on the continent. For example in Nigeria, PUNCH and other newspapers campaigned against military rule. With democracy, the press is freer although things are not perfect.

The use of mobile phones and other digital devices are growing across Africa. People, especially our teeming population of youth, prefer to get their news from the Internet and social media. My daughters, for example, get their news from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which are also quite popular in Nigeria.

But the future of print in Africa is not as bleak as painted. I always tell my team that a form of growth is still possible. However, as publishers, we would need to moderate our returns on investment expectations. Print publishers shouldn’t expect to be as profitable as they once were. In PUNCH we are exploring cross-media opportunities in a way that would help us to use the newly found strengths of our digital initiatives to help the weaknesses of print. So, African media need to constantly reinvent in order to stay in business and relevant.

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Mr. Wale Aboderin 

new AMI chair

 

Professionnels des médias, représentants des commissions électorales et experts électoraux convergent au Kenya pour discuter des élections

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Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections


Communiqué de presse

Professionnels des médias, représentants des commissions électorales et experts électoraux convergent au Kenya pour discuter des élections

Nairobi, 23 juin 2017 – Une cinquantaine de responsables de haut niveau évoluant dans les secteurs des médias et des élections vont se réunir pendant deux jours pour discuter de la « Couverture des élections en Afrique ». L’atelier se déroulera les 3 et 4 juillet à Nairobi, en présence des participants issus des pays africains appelés à organiser des élections présidentielles ou législatives dans les 18 prochains mois.

Cet atelier est une initiative conjointe de l’Initiative des médias d’Afrique (AMI) et de l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). Il bénéficie également du soutien de l’Institut international pour la démocratie et l’assistance électorale (IDEA).

Les élections constituent un test majeur de la démocratie et de la bonne gouvernance en Afrique depuis au moins les deux dernières décennies au cours desquelles un certain nombre de pays du continent ont réussi à organiser des élections multipartites. L’un des principaux objectifs de l’atelier est de réunir, professionnels des médias, responsables des structures chargées d’organiser les élections et experts électoraux d’Afrique francophone et anglophone pour discuter de manière ouverte et interactive. Il sera question, plus précisément de voir dans quelle mesure une couverture médiatique appropriée peut conduire à parfaire la réussite d’un processus électoral.

Evoquant l’atelier, Eric Chinje, le PDG d’AMI, a déclaré que « les échanges durant ces deux jours offriront aux professionnels des médias une occasion unique de partager leurs expériences et bonnes pratiques mais aussi d’acquérir de solides connaissances auprès de experts impliqués dans l’organisation des élections. Ces échanges mutuellement bénéfiques aideront sans doute à développer un ensemble de connaissances susceptibles d’être partagées à travers le continent ».

Tidiane Dioh, coordonnateur des Programmes des médias de l’OIF pour sa part, demeure convaincu qu’ « une élection ne se limite pas à introduire un bulletin de vote dans l’urne. L’électeur doit disposer de toutes les informations pertinentes sur ceux qui sollicitent les suffrages, sur les enjeux et sur les programmes. Or, seuls des médias professionnels et libres permettent d’assurer une telle information ».

L’atelier se tiendra au Centre de conférence Desmond Tutu à Nairobi, au Kenya. Les pays participants viendront d’Algérie, d’Angola, du Cameroun, de la Côte d’Ivoire, de la République démocratique du Congo, du Gabon, du Kenya, du Libéria, de Madagascar, du Mali, du Rwanda, de la Sierra Leone, du Sénégal et du Zimbabwe.

FIN

Pour plus d’informations, prière de contacter le responsable des relations avec les médias et du rayonnement, Justus Machio, par e-mail à l’adresse suivante jmachio@africanmediainitiative.org, ou par téléphone au numéro : +254700857024

À propos d’AMI

L’Initiative des médias d’Afrique (AMI) est une organisation panafricaine ayant pour but de renforcer les médias privés et indépendants du continent, en mettant l’accent sur les propriétaires et les gestionnaires, afin de promouvoir la gouvernance démocratique, le développement social et la croissance économique. Elle y œuvre grâce à un ensemble d’activités stratégiques visant à transformer le paysage des médias et des communications sur le continent. L’objectif global d’AMI est de promouvoir l’émergence des médias pluralistes en tant qu’ingrédient nécessaire et crucial de la gouvernance démocratique, ainsi que du développement économique et humain en Afrique.

À propos de l’OIF

L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) a été fondée en 1970 et a son siège social à Paris. Sa mission est d’incarner la solidarité active entre ses 84 États membres et les gouvernements qui, ensemble, représentent plus d’un tiers des États membres des Nations Unies et une population de plus de 900 millions de personnes, dont 274 millions de francophones. L’OIF mène essentiellement des activités de nature politique et des actions de coopération multilatérale au bénéfice des populations sur les cinq continents.

À propos de l’IDEA
L’Institut international pour la démocratie et l’assistance électorale (International IDEA) est une organisation intergouvernementale qui soutient la démocratie durable à travers le monde. La mission d’IDEA International est de favoriser le renforcement des institutions et processus démocratiques, ainsi qu’une démocratie durable, plus efficace et plus légitime. Composé de trente Etats membres, International IDEA travaille dans ses quatre domaines d’expertises: les processus électoraux; la participation et la représentation politique; l’élaboration de constitutions ; et la démocratie et le développement, ainsi qu’en matière de démocratie en relation à l’égalité des genres, la diversité, les conflits et la sécurité. De sa base à Addis-Abeba, le programme Afrique et Asie de l’Ouest d’IDEA International collabore étroitement avec les acteurs nationaux et les organisations régionales pour réaliser des activités dans plus de 40 pays. Les priorités du programme sont le constitutionnalisme, le dialogue entre les partis politiques, l’intégrité électorale, la gouvernance des ressources naturelles, la participation des jeunes et la représentation des femmes.

Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

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Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections


Press Statement

Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

 Nairobi, 23 June 2017 – Some 50 high-level media practitioners, representatives of electoral bodies and election experts will meet over two days to discuss the ‘Covering of Elections in Africa’. The workshop will be held on July 3- 4 in Nairobi, bringing together 13 countries from both Anglophone and Francophone Africa that are preparing to conduct elections over the next 18 months. 

This workshop is a combined effort of the African Media Initiative (AMI) and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). It is also benefiting from the additional support of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

Elections have always been an important feature of the democratic and governance structure in Africa and the last two decades have seen a number of countries on the continent organise multi-party polls. One of the key objectives of the workshop is to bring together the media, representatives of electoral bodies and election experts from both Francophone and Anglophone Africa to discuss in a frank, open and interactive manner. The discussion will focus on what can be done to better understand elections and, in the process; help consolidate the quality of reporting.

Speaking about the workshop, Eric Chinje, CEO of AMI, said “the two-day deliberations will offer a unique forum for sharing experiences and expertise, and gaining valuable knowledge from professionals who have been closely involved in the running and coverage of elections.” Chinje hopes that this cross-fertilization of ideas will help towards the development of a body of knowledge that can be shared across the continent.

Tidiane Dioh, Coordinator of the Media Programme at OIF, is convinced that “elections are much more than casting one’s vote”. According to him, “the voter must have access to a whole array of relevant information concerning the electoral process and such a role and responsibility remains the purview of a free, independent and professional media”.

The workshop will be held at the Desmond Tutu Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Participating countries are Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

END

For more information, kindly contact AMI’s Media Relations Manager, Justus Machio, via e-mail on jmachio@africanmediainitiative.org or on +254700857024

About AMI

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a pan-African organization that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector from an owner and operator perspective to promote democratic governance, social development and economic growth. It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.

About OIF

The International Organisation of La Francophonie was created in 1970 and has its head office in Paris. Its mission is to embody the active solidarity between its 84 member states and governments which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of over 900 million people, including 274 million French speakers. OIF organises political activities and actions of multilateral cooperation that benefits people living in the five continents.

About IDEA
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. International IDEA’s mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics. Composed of thirty member states, International IDEA works across four key impact areas, notably: electoral processes; political parties representation & participation; constitution-building and democracy and development. It also addresses the important issues of gender, diversity, and conflict and security as they relate to democracy. From its base in Addis Ababa, the Africa and West Asia (AWA) programme of International IDEA collaborates closely with both national actors and regional organizations and has a footprint in over 40 countries. Priorities include constitutionalism, inter-party dialogue, electoral integrity, natural resource governance, youth participation and women’s representation.

 

The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair

The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair

PRESS RELEASE

The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair

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Nairobi, 19 June 2017 — The Board of AMI has elected Mr. Wale Aboderin as the new Chair of the organization. He will be taking over from the maiden chair, Mr. Trevor Ncube, Executive Vice-chairman of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, who has steered the organization since its inception in 2008. The organization thanks Mr. Ncube, and his early co-Chair, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, for the valuable support and guidance of AMI during its formative years.

Mr. Wale Aboderin, a Nigerian businessman is the Chairman of PUNCH, Nigeria’s leading newspaper group headquartered in Lagos. PUNCH publishes three print and two digital newspapers, and runs four major print presses across Nigeria.

Mr. Aboderin trained as a commercial pilot at the Burnside-Ott Flying School, Florida, United States. He was appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2012. His tenure has witnessed groundbreaking changes in the editorial quality, management and fortunes of PUNCH, including a hugely successful redesign, the launch of several digital initiatives and the newspaper’s win of several local and international awards.

A popular sports enthusiast in Nigeria, Mr. Aboderin is the founder and owner of Dolphins Basketball Club, a leading African female basketball club, with local and continental honours. He is a former chairman of the Lagos State Basketball Association and a former member of the Nigerian Handball Federation.

“I thankfully accept this role and I believe AMI should help African media bridge the communication gap between policymakers and the citizens to allow for a two-way feedback engagement,” Mr Aboderin said. “During my tenure I will champion the AMI cause everywhere and ensure that Africans stop being suspicious about homegrown initiatives and support this organization.”

Mr Eric Chinje, CEO of the African Media Initiative, stated: “With more than two decades of direct involvement in media, Mr Wale brings a wealth of experience to the organization. He will surely help AMI refocus its work around the four major pillars of activity around which a new strategy is being developed: strengthening media capacity (thematic specialization); content development and promotion; research; and performance incentives for media professionals.”

About AMI
The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a pan-African organization that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector with a view to promoting democratic governance, social development and economic growth. It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.

The Purpose of Media (4)

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By AMI CEO Eric Chinje

In a preceding segment of this series I discussed what I referred to as “the governance loop” in which media serves as the informational cord that binds government and the governed.  I posed the question as to how well media in Africa plays its role within the loop and whether, in doing so, it contributes to that ultimate goal of raising the quality of life on the continent?

I contended that some in the industry would argue that these questions were irrelevant to what is essentially a business – the news business – that should have no other determinants than the quality of content and audience size, the imperatives of survival in a highly competitive environment, and making a profit for investors.  There are obvious practical reasons for taking such a position but how does one not find common ground with those observers who believe that this is what accounts that “a race to the bottom” by media in Africa – one in which trash talk, celebrity gossip, political and social scandal, and sports results have become standard offerings on the media menu.

I believe the role of media in society must go beyond the justified but often mundane and the self-serving concerns of media owners and professionals.  Media in 21st century Africa is the single most important instrument for engendering the social and political transformations taking place on the continent.  It has, in the view of many, become the First Estate!  New technologies in this digital age have strengthened both the reach and power of media, forcing all the other levers of state power to defer to it in ways hitherto unimagined in the quest for control of society.

It is important to recognize its power and to act with responsibility and foresight.  There are important reasons why it must go beyond the very limited agenda of content production and delivery.  Media has a duty and self-serving reasons to work with the other arms of the state to ensure society’s survival and growth.

First of all, the media industry is more likely to thrive in a society that thrives than in one that does not.  Societies thrive when governments adopt and implement appropriate policies in critical sectors of national economies, and citizens are able to weigh in on the shaping of these policies.  Secondly, the single most important source of what goes into media content is very often the direct consequence of government action. Understanding the whys and wherefore of such action allows media to play its role from a perspective of knowledge.  That intermediation role, delivering information from government or reacting to the consequences of government action, and providing feedback from citizens, is core to what media is and does.

The prevailing school of thought within independent media in Africa is that the longer the distance from government the better the credibility of the media organization.  In the corrupted socio-political environment of most countries, this makes absolute sense. The question remains, however: can a media industry that is permanently in the dark as to what goes on within the corridors of political power successfully serve its purpose vis-à-vis society?  How does it intermediate when it sits only on one side of the social equation?

 

The purpose of media in a changing Africa commands media professionals to not only seek and gain access to where policies are made but also to understand why certain policy choices are made over others.  New technologies have increased the possibility of obtaining needed access to knowledge and, in the process, redefined the profile of who the journalist should be and what he or she should be doing.  It is in this regard that we will, in a next segment, look at who media managers should be looking to hire today and in what proportion.  What should be the mix of professionals in a modern newsroom: techies, journalists, business managers, good writers, sociologists, political scientists, financial analysts, and so on?  Which all begs another question as to whether traditional norms should still be in play in a non-traditional digital environment? Is change within the media an imperative?  Are today’s media leaders up to the game?  These will be examined in the next delivery in the “Purpose of Media” series.

 

Looking to journalists’ safety

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Unesco’s Jaco du Toit moderating a discussion on Journalists’ Safety Indicators.


Over the past year, the African Media Initiative has been examining the media environment in Kenya to assess the level of journalists’ safety against a set of specific indicators. The study, commissioned by Unesco, involved data collection from key media stakeholders such as media, state and political actors, civil society organizations and academia, the UN and other international organizations.

 

The indicators – Journalists’ Safety Indicators – are an initiative of Unesco and are designed as a tool to measure progress in efforts to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

 

As Unesco says in its guidelines, Applying UNESCO’s Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSIs) A Practical Guidebook to Assist Researchers (published on 11 February, 2015), “The purpose of the JSI indicators is to pinpoint significant matters that show, or impact upon, the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. ” The indicators “especially serve as a basis against which changes can be systematically registered over time’’, the guidelines add.

 

The Guidebook goes on to explain that the JSIs cover “a variety of actions, including: monitoring safety issues (information collection), promoting norms on safety (which includes the publishing of information, amongst other steps), co-ordination with other actors, training and capacity-building programmes, as well as other activities”.

 

On February 23, Unesco convened a stakeholders’ validation workshop at the United Nations office at Gigiri in Nairobi. It brought together a cross-section of representative groups – Kenya Union of Journalists, Kenya Correspondents Association, Association of Freelance Journalists, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (K), Kenya Human Rights Commission, African Media Initiative, Twaweza Communications, Association of Bloggers, Article 19, Association of Parliamentary Journalists and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. State actors had also been invited but did not attend.

 

The lead researcher, Dr George Nyabuga, of the School of Journalism, University of Nairobi, presented the research findings with Unesco’s Jaco du Toit moderating the discussions. Feedback from the stakeholders will help refine the report in preparation for its launch on May 3, 2016, as part of activities to mark the World Press Freedom Day.

 

Musings of a budding journalist

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By Mary Chumbow

Communications Intern

In a journalism ethics class last year, the lecturer posed a question the sat back and let us debate the answer for a while since, as she pointed out, she was sure it would not be an easy one to resolve.

“If teenagers were involved in a murder and you were assigned to cover the murder trial, would you see it fit to take photos of these children and post them as part of your story, thus exposing their identity, or would you use aliases with your story?” She asked.

The question was informed by a 1993 incident in the UK in which two 10-year-old boys on a murder charge had their photos splashed all over the media. What followed in class was a very heated debate as each student weighed in on the issue. Opinion was divided almost right in the middle. Some students felt it would be unethical to use aliases in the interest of the children and their families. Others argued that to do so would be unethical and would amount to protecting the juveniles with the attendant risk that they could carry on with their criminal behavior once released.

Needless to say, the debate ended with a divided class and that was exactly what the lecturer was hoping for, a stalemate, otherwise called, an ethical dilemma in journalism. But how do we overcome these dilemmas and still maintain our credibility as journalists?

Being credible is one thing but to prove credibility is another, and this is the point at which, I dare say, a major part of the African media is. I get the feeling that the African audience has lost confidence in its media and find international media more believable.

As a journalism student, who could be referred to as a baby taking her first steps in the industry, I feel a little bit entitled and always want to speak up for journalists when others are criticizing them. However, even I find that difficult at times am persuaded to agree, as accusatory as this may sound, with the public perception of journalists as integrity-deficient biased puppets of vested interests.

Nurturing a discipline of compliance with journalistic ethical standards is a continuing challenge for many in the profession and as as Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta once stated, the country, and Africa, can simply not afford to accommodate unqualified journalists or those who do not observe the highest ethical standards of the profession. The President was speaking at Kenyatta International Convention Centre during a regional forum organized by the Media Council of Kenya as part of preparations for the World Press Freedom Day celebrations of May 3, 2014.

Undoubtedly,the African media has been in a perennial struggle with the ruling class over press freedom. Many journalists and media personalities have been heard to speak out against oppression of the press by presidents and/or governments. For a journalist in a country such as Cameroon, I would like to think that our first worry would be the lack of quality facilities or resources.

However, in countries like Kenya, the media has had to face opposition from not only the government but the public as well. Nowhere is this assault on media more vicious and sustained than on social media. In a sense, the media has itself to blame for this for publishing, for instance, one-sided stories loaded with innuendos with little evidence of verification of what comes through as outlandish claims and allegations, misplaced comments and outright bias.

Media credibility can only be renewed by the journalists themselves. Apart from qualifications acquired in journalism schools that allow us to practise the trade, journalists need to maintain a persona that is beyond reproach. Neutrality is key, and I feel that this is what is mostly lacking in the profession. The moment a reader or viewer notices bias or questions the timeliness of one’s story, a seed of doubt is planted and credibility is lost.

The Media Council of Kenya’s Deputy CEO and programmes manager, Victor Bwire, was spot on in an article published in January 18, 2016 issue of the Standard Digital Media, when he wrote: “Media regulation is not going to be done through external means by non-media organizations creating some laws and administrative codes, but by journalists themselves, through a conducive legal regime that accepts that journalism is a profession and not a craft.” (See article here).

By treating journalism as the profession that it is, journalists will be able to retain that respect and credibility that is so much needed. This is what will bring a change to the face and voice of the media.

As a budding journalist, I would like to believe that this is actually possible. However, as I was told once by those already in the profession (and as I am sure you, the reader, might be thinking), reality is quite different from class work. “Once you’re in the real world, you’ll soon come to realize that all is not as it seems,” I was told in an almost hectoring manner.

A time should come when journalism students will not have to defend those who preceded them in the field and on the way, possibly become disillusioned. We need the best African brains working in the media, to tell the African story, in the best way possible.

Is it at this point that I should say I have a dream? Well… yes, I have a dream. That said, anyone looking to hire a freshly minted journalist with great ideas on how to better tell the African story?

 

 

Telecommunications and Media Forum held in Johannesburg

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Best practice decision making to drive connectivity, accessibility and competitiveness

The International Institute of Communications held its final Telecommunications and Media Forum of  2015 in Johannesburg. The event was marked by a robust debate by speakers and delegates on what constitutes “best” practice policy and regulatory decision-making.

Over two days, senior executives representing regulators, industry, academia and civil society from Africa and beyond analyzed the opportunities and challenges of driving connectivity, accessibility, affordability and competitiveness in the global economy.

Participants also reviewed the progress of digital migration and examined planning and implementation of broadband infrastructure, through National Broadband Plans. A review of the Ghana migration experience showed that funding was the biggest challenge to the project as the country’s initial funding arrangement of a concessionary loan from China did not materialize.

Ghana also struggled to fund a public education campaign on the migration, as well as supporting the economically vulnerable in the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting. Governments still have a lot to do in reviewing existing broadcasting legal frameworks in order to support a successful analogue switch-off.

The Telecommunications and Media Forum was supported by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), and featured keynote addresses from South African ministries. Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, set the scene on the opening day where the focus was on infrastructure, funding and supply side issues with affordable, sustainable access recognized as a key development goal.

Looking for free content for your online news outlet? You might want to check The Conversation Africa

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Great content can sometimes be hard to come by, and with few media organizations in Africa possessing the resources required to engage foreign correspondents, a new site might just be the what many need. The Conversation Africa is a news and analysis website which is a collaboration between African and international academics and their editors, who are journalists. It’s a Creative Commons website – so it’s free to republish any of the articles on the site – and it is a great source of expert opinion that is edited for the general reader in mind.

The Conversation Africa launched in May as part of the global group (with sister websites in the US, the UK, Australia and France) and are regularly picked up by publishers such as the Guardian, CNN and Time magazine, among others.

Take a look at the website – https://theconversation.com/africa – and see which articles you might be interested in republishing. The site just asks that you follow its guidelines – https://theconversation.com/africa/republishing-guidelines – which includes attributing the academic, their university and The Conversation Africa and linking back to the original story. You can pick up a tracking code on individual articles, which is a small string of code that will go into the HTML coding on your website (those instructions are attached).

Some recent pieces which might be of interest are:

How toxic leaders destroy people as well as organisations
https://theconversation.com/how-toxic-leaders-destroy-people-as-well-as-organisations-51951

Why reaching and staying middle class is a lifetime challenge
https://theconversation.com/why-reaching-and-staying-middle-class-is-a-lifetime-challenge-52322

Four common myths about exercise and weight loss
https://theconversation.com/four-common-myths-about-exercise-and-weight-loss-52855

Why the UN isn’t winning its battle against sexual abuse by peacekeepers
https://theconversation.com/why-the-un-isnt-winning-its-battle-against-sexual-abuse-by-peacekeepers-52866

How the rise in ethnic tensions at Kenya’s universities is hurting the academy
https://theconversation.com/how-the-rise-in-ethnic-tensions-at-kenyas-universities-is-hurting-the-academy-50730
To pick up the tracking code:
1. Go to article page. For example https://theconversation.com/how-africa-can-instil-entrepreneurship-as-a-tool-of-development-47393

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2. Click on the Republish button, which is on the right side of the screen.

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3. You will see a pop-up screen. Click the Advanced tab on the pop-up screen.

4. In the Advanced tab, you will find the small string of code in the top window. In the above example, it is this: <img alt=”The Conversation” height=”1″ src=”https://counter.theconversation.edu.au/content/47393/count.gif” width=”1″ />

5. Insert into HTML for story.

Election Coverage: A Central Role for Media

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By Eric Chinje

Africa is emerging as a player on the global stage. This should not be news to anyone. Mention of the fact should, however, serve as an invitation to reflect on its significance.

For the first time in history, events and outcomes in Africa will impact and be directly impacted by what goes on in the rest of the world. Even as late as 2008, less than a decade ago, the sub-prime crisis and global economic meltdown of that year had nary an effect on the continent. Africa was essentially outside the global economic system – too small a player to matter!

That has all changed. The world will not catch a cold when Africa sneezes – not yet! – but the threat of a cold is becoming real. The continent’s growing middle class complete with its voracious consumerist tendencies, its potential as a source of essential minerals such as coltan, uranium, manganese and others, and a growing desire and ability to seek value-addition prior to exports, all of this is moving Africa ever closer to the economic heart of global affairs. It is about time, therefore, that Africans – citizens and governments – recognize this and talk about it.

The challenge of injecting this fact into the public discourse mostly lies, I believe, with media professionals and, to some extent, with academics, social commentators and other opinion leaders on the continent.

Citizens and their leaders have to be reminded of this important fact because their actions today and tomorrow at the individual, micro level have consequences at the collective, macro level.

The discussion must focus on the quality of leadership on the continent. What quality of men and women are in leadership in Africa today? What quality of men and women should lead Africa in the 21st century?

The answer to these questions will bring us to the one element that is increasingly central to the choice of leaders today: elections!

One of the most important drivers of change in Africa now is the system of governance that came into prominence after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. Freed from the imperatives of a bipolar world, people in Africa ultimate rose to demand the right to participate in the governance of their countries.

The result was the slow but steady collapse of centralized states and single party rule, and the rise in Africa of participatory democracy. Elections have since become the mode for determining entry into the circle of national leadership. And the leaders who will ensure that Africa remains an actor in world affairs this century will come to power through elections. Other options have proved to be disastrous for regional stability and economic growth.

The future of the continent is inextricably linked to what happens during elections. And in this, the role of media is critical! That is why it is important that journalists and other media professionals get into the game, understand what elections represent, and figure out how they cover these intensely political, economic and social activities in the life of any nation.

Elections strengthen national democracies and institutions; they determine the quality of leaders who will govern the nation; they help ensure the sustainability of peace and progress, and ultimately they define the pace and quality of development and change.

Key to electoral outcomes is the quality of public information and debate. Informed citizens are empowered citizens. Never before in its history has the need for quality public information in Africa been in greater demand. Never before has the role of the communication professional been more important.

What journalists and other opinion leaders do in the lead up to elections, in the organization and coverage of the elections, and in bringing the country together again after elections may be the single most important role played by the media in any country. Their actions may be the one factor that reinforces the bonds that bind the nation, strengthen its governance institutions, and ensure national progress and development.

 

There are elections each year somewhere in Africa. Even in cases where outcomes are known before ballots are cast, elections present an opportunity to bring out the issues and general debate on them. There is hardly a country on the continent that does not face issues related to youth unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, public health and education, economic and financial management, energy, agriculture and food security, and challenges to peace and security. Who is offering the public viable policy options for dealing with these? There is no better time to put out these issues and have aspirants to power discuss them.

 

The African Media Initiative will be partnering with some global institutions to help strengthen the ability of media professionals to adequately cover elections and to make sure that media in Africa play that central role in defining the future of this continent.