Key topics and speakers revealed at the upcoming AIDF Africa Summit 2016

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With the Aid & Development Africa Summit 2016 (2-3 February, UNCC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) fast approaching, you are invited to hear from internationally recognised experts, who will deliver invaluable insight into technological innovations and best practice to improve aid delivery and development strategy in East Africa, including:

 

  • H. E. Debretsion G. Michael, Minister of Communications & Information Technology, Ethiopia and H.E. Kesetebirahn Admasu, Minister of Health, Ethiopia invited as keynote speakers of the Aid & Development Africa Summit 2016

 

  • Opening Keynote Address by H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

 

  • Mobile innovations for humanitarian and development work, moderated by Christopher Hoffman, Regional Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director of World Vision (Kenya) with participation from Dr Sharad Sapra, UNICEF and Nada El Marji, Inmarsat

 

  • Update on UN Procurement principles and process by Beng Teoh, Consultant, Procurement Unit, United Nations Economic Commission For Africa (UNECA)

 

  • Humanitarian logistics and supply chain challenges with participation of Rishi Ramrakha, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Eva Mwai, North Star Alliance and Anne Signe Hørstad, Transparency International Norway

 

  • An update on child and maternal health initiatives and innovations with John Graham, Country Director of Save the Children as panel moderator and Dr Martina Fuchs, Real Medicine Foundation, Brigitte Dacosta, bioMérieux and Lena Wahlhed, HemoCue as participating speakers

 

  • Outlook on WASH innovations and good practice by Manoj Kumar, Country Director, Ethiopia, Plan International, Dr Patrick Marcus, Kaercher FUTURETECH and Dr Samuel Godfrey, UNICEF

 

  • Keynote speech on supporting and empowering women by Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Coordinator & Representative of UNDP, United Nations Kenya

 

Amongst other topics covered at the Aid & Development Africa Summit 2016:

  • New Financing and Electronic Payment Models
  • Innovations, Partnerships, Technologies for Effective Emergency Communications 
  • Data & Knowledge Management and Sharing
  • Safety and Training of Aid Workers
  • HIV and AIDS Response in the Post-2015 Development Agenda​
  • Improving Livelihoods of Displaced People
  • Building & Strengthening Strategic Partnerships  

 

There are only four weeks left and with over 250 participants already registered, book your place now to discover new innovations and benefit from dedicated networking opportunities.

 

To view complete speaker list and agenda, or to register your participation, please visit http://africa.aidforum.org  
We look forward to welcoming you to the AIDF Africa Summit in February!

Reporting Development: A Guide for African Journalists

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A new publication and resource tailored for media professionals in Africa has just been released by the European Journalism Centre (ECJ) and Kenya’s AfricaOnAir. The new release is a Reporting Development Guide version of the original one authored by veteran Reuters journalist Oliver Wates and aims to act as a key and timely resource for journalists at the Pan-African level. The guide and its release are part of the EJC’s multi-year commitment to media development in Kenya and is funded through the MFSII instrument of the Netherlands Foreign Ministry in The Hague.

An online version of Reporting Development: A Guide for African Journalists is available for free here.

AFRICAN MEDIA LEADERS FORUM CHARTS NEW PATHWAYS TO JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE

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NEWS RELEASE

AFRICAN MEDIA LEADERS FORUM CHARTS NEW PATHWAYS TO JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE:

Action Plan Focuses on Media Development and Greater Engagement for Sustainable Development of the Continent

Johannesburg, Nov 17, 2015 – More than 600 media leaders met at the 7th African Media Leaders Forum during November 11-13 to review new opportunities arising from digital technologies and charted a forward-looking action plan for media development on the continent.

“Africa is on the cusp of unprecedented economic, cultural and social transformations,” said Eric Chinje, CEO, African Media Initiative (AMI). “African media have a central role to play in catalyzing sustainable development on the continent and securing sustainable growth of the media sector. At Birchwood Hotel and conference Center, we took an evidence-based approach to secure a better future for African media and improve the everyday lives of Africans.”

A highlight of the Forum was a keynote address by H.E. Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritiu, and a welcome address by Hon. Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency, South Africa.

The 19 Zimeo Excellence in Media Awards 2015 announced at the Forum mark a new push to drive excellence in media and support the sustainable development agenda for the continent. A record 557 entries in 22 categories were received from across the continent and were assessed by a pan-African complement of judges and jurors.

The Forum tasked AMI with exploring the establishment of a publicly-financed “Special Fund for Media Development,” whose core purpose will be to strengthen journalism capacity in Africa’s low-income countries. Plans are underway to establish an electronic “African Media Cooperative” that would pool news stories and improve knowledge-sharing among media houses. A new initiative to strengthen coverage of African elections and boost reporting capacity was announced. To harness the latest knowledge and leverage technology, AMI will seek collaboration with the U.S. Newspaper Publishers Association.

The AMLF is convened by the Nairobi-based African Media Initiative (AMI) and marks the largest gathering of its type of African media owners and professionals. The next AMLF will be held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in November 2016 and venue and dates will be announced after consultation with the Ivorian authorities.

All Forum materials are available online on the AMI website,www.africanmediainitiative.org

ZIMEO “Excellence in Media” Awards 2015 winners announced

Zimeo winner

Johannesburg, 13th November 2015-Sixteen journalists have been recognized for their exemplary work in reporting on development issues in Africa at the first edition of the Zimeo Excellence in Media Awards held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The awards also recognized institutions that support the development of viable media across Africa, and media organizations that exemplify the adoption and application of best practice in governance and leadership. South Africa led the winners list with four awardees, followed by Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Nigeria with three each.

The competition, the latest addition to the array of services offered by the African Media Initiative, received more than 500 entries from print, broadcast and online journalists. A technical team reviewed the entries and submitted its initial short list to independent panels of judges representing east, west, central, south and north Africa.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre in the East Rand area of Johannesburg, judging coordinator and head of the technical team Wangethi Mwangi noted that “Zimeo is a new kind of competition because it doesn’t intend to confer the title of journalist of the year. Instead, it seeks to identify journalism excellence in the various sectors of development on which society’s survival hinges.”

Competition judge Joachim Buwembo noted: “The winning stories were unique in their approach, and helped create interest in daily phenomena. The effective use of citizens’ voices and the exploration of the complexities – social, economic, and more- makes the stories a great example of quality journalism on the continent.”

African Media Initiative CEO Eric Chinje congratulated the winners and thanked the awards sponsors for their continued investment in journalism on the continent. “The entries,” he said, “were quite diverse in terms of subject matter, quality and relevance to the continent’s development agenda. At AMI, we are excited to launch these awards and look forward to growing the competition in the years to come.”

The winners of the first Zimeo Excellence in Media Awards are:

OSISA Award for Excellence in Media: Data Journalism Reporting
Eunice Kalunde Kilonzo and Michael Mosota of Daily Nation, Kenya
Story title: Tobacco war graphics

Zimeo Award for Excellence in Media: Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals Coverage
Suy Kahofi Jischvi of Abidjan Live News, Cote d’Ivoire
Story title: Femmes, Faites-Vous Depister Pour Sauver Votre Bebe

Cherif Sy Award for Excellence in Media: Peace and security Reporting
Boowurosigue Hyacinthe Sanou of L’observateur Paalga, Burkina Faso
Story title: Nuit Du 29 Octobre 2014: Nous Etions A La Chambre 143

Open Society Foundation Award for Excellence in Media: Technology Reporting
Jay Caboz of Forbes International, South Africa
Story title: A rat race against death

Zimeo Award for Excellence in Media: Infrastructure Reporting
Anthony Akaeze of TELL magazine, Nigeria
Story title: Lagos ticking time-bomb

The Rockefeller Foundation Award for Excellence in Media: Agriculture and food security Reporting
Geoffery Kamadi of African Business magazine, Kenya
Story title: Greater autonomy in store for Kenya’s farmers

Zimeo Award for Excellence in Media: Education Reporting
Stephen Ssenkaaba of New Vision, Uganda
Story title: Children with disabilities left out of Universal Primary Education

Zimeo Award for Excellence in Media: Energy Reporting
Oketola Adedayo Eriye The Punch, Nigeria,
Story title: Power failure: Nigerians burn N17.5tn fuel on generators in five years

Nation Media Group Award for Excellence in Media: Maritime Economy Reporting
Jay Caboz of Forbes Africa magazine, South Africa
Story title: The dead port that rose again

African Wildlife Foundation Award for Excellence in Media: Environment and Conservation Reporting
Fousenni Saibou of Kanal FM, Togo
Story title: Dossier assèchement des cours d’eau au Togo

Ford Foundation Award for Excellence in Media: Gender Reporting
Eugene Nforngwa Ndiboti of the Standard Tribune newspaper, Cameroon
Story title: The broken lives of Akwaya’s money

Ecobank Award for Excellence in Media: Health Reporting
Yolandi Groenewald and Sipho Masondo of City Press, South Africa
Story title: Dirty water killed our babies

African Development Bank Award for Excellence in Media: Natural Resources Reporting
Yao Ossene Ouattara of infoduzanzan.com, Cote d’Ivoire
Story title: Bondoukou: Les Realites Insoutenables de L’Exploitation Miniere.(Unsustainable realities of mining)

Dr. Ameena Gurib- Fakim Award for Excellence in Media: Science Reporting
Veronicah Okeyo of Business Daily, Kenya
Story tile: Medics prescribe measures to tame rising drug abuse

United Bank for Africa Award for Excellence in Media: Business and Finance Reporting
Akinyole Adebayo Apollos of The Punch, Nigeria
Story title: Bittersweet banking: World of Nigeria’s mobile traditional bankers

The Rockefeller Foundation Award for Excellence in Media: Youth Reporting
Stephen Nartey of Joy FM, Ghana
Story title: Narcotic schoolboys.

The other categories, recognizing media support institutions and media organizations, are:

Mo Ibrahim Foundation Award for Excellence in Media: Governance and Leadership
Winner: Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa

Maria Kiwanuka Award for Excellence in Media: African public institutions that support Media
Winner: Support and Media Development Fund, Cote d’Ivoire

The Zimeo Excellence in Media Awards judging panels were led by Chief Judges Dapo Olorunyomi, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times, Nigeria; Professor Levi Obonyo, Dean, School of Communications, Languages and Performing Arts at Daystar University, Kenya; Agnès Kraidy, senior journalist at Fraternité Matin, Cote d’Ivoire; veteran Cameroonian journalist Alex Gustave Azebaze; Michael Didama, Managing Editor, Le Temps newspaper in Chad; veteran journalist Joachim Buwembo of Uganda; Kafu Kofi Tsikata, Senior Communications Specialist at World Bank in Ghana; and Tunisian-based Lotfi Madani, former Chief Communications Specialist at the African Development Bank.

For further information, please contact:

Irene Wangui

Communications Officer, African Media Initiative

Email: iwangui@africanmediainitiative.org

Tel: +254725268108

Development in Media and Media Development: Toward a New African Narrative for New Times

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Speech by Her Excellency Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim President, Republic of Mauritius; At the Opening of the 7th AMLF

 

 

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Members of the Media, Citizen Journalists and Bloggers
following this Conference

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

Good morning.  It is a pleasure to be back in South Africa, and a privilege to address the Seventh African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF).

 

I congratulate AMLF and the African Media Initiative on their choice of locale. South Africa occupies a unique position in the African imagination and ethos.

 

South Africa’s political transition – from a reviled apartheid state to a beacon of democracy – is a remarkable story, and a continuing source of inspiration for all Africans and the world.

 

As South Africa’s evolution shows, the path to democracy can be rocky but at such times it is reassuring to recall how South Africans have demonstrated that truth and reconciliation can go hand in hand, and how some of the deepest scars of the past can be erased.

 

Through generosity of spirit, South Africans have shown how adversity and racial division can be overcome with compassion, determination and empathy allowing for greater fulfilment of the human potential.

 

The recent discovery of Homo Naledi in the Rising Star caves – not far from the venue of this Forum – has added a completely new dimension to our understanding of our own origins and evolution while once again underscoring the centrality of South Africa in human affairs.

 

When Eric Chinje invited me to address this Forum, I accepted his kind invitation with trepidation.

 

As a newly-elected President of Mauritius, former business entrepreneur and lifelong scientist, I pondered what new insights could I share with the African continent’s media leaders and add value to the deliberations at this Forum?

 

After all, I am more at home in the quietude of medicinal plants than in the frenzied 24/7 world of media headlines, bylines and deadlines.

 

Well, Eric was his usual persuasive self and quickly dispelled any residual doubts by convincing me that the overarching purpose of this Forum is to shape conversations on development in Africa and chart a new, more hopeful narrative about the African continent.

 

So, I am here to help with that task, and appreciate the opportunity to address this distinguished Forum.

 

To set the context for my remarks, I would like to begin by describing the current development landscape. Since the Forum is looking at media in a digital environment, I will outline the profound nature of the ICT revolution and its potential, and conclude by highlighting the common areas where science and media intersect, and how they can be natural allies for achieving the common good.

 

Seen against this backdrop, the time is opportune to ask several key questions. What role African media can play in shaping evidence-based conversations about development?  At a time of rapid transformation, how can a more positive and hopeful narrative emerge? Are African media up to the task of creating the space for participatory citizenship to take hold and drive the conversations needed to sustain Africa’s positive trends?

 

Finally, I would like to use my pulpit to call for a more hopeful, people- and development-centered narrative that can be embraced by all Africans.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, we meet at a consequential time in Africa’s evolution. 

 

Africa, south of the Sahara, is undergoing unprecedented economic, social and cultural transformations.

 

Let me begin with the good news.

 

Economic growth rates are up – the World Bank projects Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) GDP growth rate to average 4.1 percent in 2015.  Estimates show that growth will remain strong in Africa’s low-income countries, which bodes well for the fight against poverty, hunger, malnutrition and disease.

 

A commodities boom, improved governance, sound macroeconomic fundamentals, commitment to reform and new resource discoveries have all contributed to this robust growth trend, helping to reverse 20 years of economic decline.

 

We are making progress in education and health.  Between 2000 and 2008, secondary school enrollment increased by 50 percent, and life expectancy has increased by 10%.

 

The continent is open for business.

 

I was particularly pleased that Mauritius, with a global ranking of 32, was cited as the region’s highest ranked economy in terms of ease of doing business.

 

As we all know, Ebola has dominated the headlines and exacted a heavy toll in human suffering on the populations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Economic losses alone from the Ebola crisis are expected to top $30 billion with far reaching impacts.

 

And there is good news from West Africa. In early September, the World Health Organization declared Liberia to be free of the Ebola virus.  And last week, Sierra Leone has also been declared Ebola free.

 

But these welcome trends have to be seen against the backdrop of sobering facts, making the proverbial glass half-full.

 

Changes in demography, high population growth rates, rapid urbanization, slumping commodity prices are all posing major challenges, threatening to reverse hard-won development gains.

 

I would be remiss if I did not address climate change and the fundamental threat it poses to balanced development in SSA.

 

Food production in SSA will need to increase by 60% over the next 15 years, and yet the agriculture sector will be hit hardest. Without adaptation, Africa will suffer severe yield declines in important food growing areas. Extreme weather events are increasing, in frequency as well as intensity.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is only a fleeting snapshot of the major challenges facing our continent.  There are more.  As a scientist, I lament that SSA with 12% of the global population only accounts for less than 1% of the world’s research output. And that no African nation was among the top 20 countries filing for patent applications in 2013.

 

Let me now turn briefly to the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revolution underway, and the portents it holds for sustainable development of the African continent.

 

ICT Revolution

 

One of the dominating features of the 21st century is the remarkable growth and ubiquity of global communications, affecting all facets of human endeavor.  Today, we take instantaneous communication for granted.

 

The rapid rise of social media has been breathtaking, with Facebook ready to enter the history books as the third largest “country” of “netizens” numbering over one billion and counting. New ICT technologies have led to the new field of bioinformatics and genomics, a development that was instrumental in the decoding of the human genome.

 

According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s report “Big Data: the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity” in 2010, people stored enough data to fill 60,000 Libraries of Congress.  YouTube uploads more than 24 hours of video every minute.  The world’s 4 billion users of mobile phones – 12 percent of whom own smart phones – have turned themselves into data streams.

 

The World Bank’s next World Development Report will focus on the theme of “Digital Dividends.” Some of its early findings: there are 4.2 billion Google searches each day. 6000 tweets go out every second.

 

Success stories abound.  From Kenya’s M-pesa to Senegal’s Sonatel and Mali’s Ikon telemedicine program, we are witnessing remarkable strides African countries are taking in mobilizing ICT for national development, improving governance, boosting accountability and positively impacting people’s lives.

 

And we are yet to see the full contours of the “Internet of Things” that is fast emerging, linking devices, people and data in ways unthinkable a few years ago.

 

The surge in communication capability is unprecedented in human history.  Our collective challenge is to mold these tremendous forces and bring them to bear on the common, everyday problems facing Africans.

 

 

 

Science and Media

 

The famous mathematician and scientist, late Alfred North Whitehead, said “The aims of scientific thought are to see the general in the particular and the eternal in the transitory.”

 

The key words are about seeing the “general” in the “particular” and the “eternal” in the “transitory.”

 

Like science, media can be a powerful force for the common good.  The ability to search for truth, based on evidence, is a fundamental aspect of journalism.  Discerning trends, locating stories in their local contexts, connecting the dots, speaking truth to power without fear of retribution, these are all about seeing the general in the particular.  Similarly, development is about people.  That fact is eternal.

 

Back to the Future

 

I have painted a broad canvas so to conclude let me take recourse to the writings of Rabindranath Tagore, India’s famous literary giant, poet and Nobel laureate who described the quest for a promised land in his magisterial poem “Gitanjali”:

 

Where the mind is held without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the  desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led … into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom … let my country awake.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that science and the practice of journalism, supported by a new, more hopeful, Africa-centric narrative can help propel us forward in the journey to our promised land.

 

Both science and journalism can play an important role in Africa’s transformation by paving the journey with words that draw their strength from truth, where the search for perfection and quality reporting is never-ending, and where evidence is used to strengthen stories, influence policies and backstop our research endeavors, whether at the news desk, in laboratories or class rooms.

 

Like science, the best of journalism can only arise when it is practiced without fear of retribution.

 

Good journalism is a barometer of society.  It can shine the light of scrutiny on Africa’s efforts to achieve sustainable development, showcasing development successes and pinpointing failures so that we can learn from them, adapt and innovate.

 

Done right, journalism with a social purpose and geared toward the common good can help transform our economies, spur innovation in newsrooms and laboratories, improve our economic and social prospects and help the continent to thrive so that all Africans can dream of better tomorrows.  It will also help media owners to meet corporate objectives and make a profit.

 

So what will it take to craft a more hopeful, Africa-centric narrative?

 

To media owners, I urge you to invest in your journalists, they are the future of the news business. By building journalism capacity, you will unleash talent, build human capability and lay the foundations for viable businesses and deliver profits.

 

Africa needs a cadre of young people, brimming with ideas and zeal, with story-telling skills who choose media and journalism not for the glamor it holds – but for its potential to nurture development and positively impact society.

 

Why is it important to attract youth?  Let me cite an example from the world of science.  By age 23, Issac Newton had made three of the greatest discoveries in science: the Differential Calculus, the Composition of Light and the Laws of Gravitation.  All this when in the summer of 1665, his academic base in Cambridge had to be evacuated on account of the plague!

 

To journalists, both current and aspiring, I implore you to focus your reporting skills on promoting sustainable development in Africa.  There are scores of human-interest stories waiting to be told, every day people who are beating the odds and making improvements in the lives of their families.

 

The development challenges confronting Africa far surpass the capability of any one country to tackle them alone.  African journalists can and must become the voice of change and help the continent to become a producer, not just a consumer of knowledge.

 

It is said the media cannot help us to think, but that media can be stunningly successful in telling us what to think about!

 

Here the agenda-setting function of the media can serve media owners and journalists alike.

 

African media – owners and practitioners – must be active, not passive in tackling development topics, generating local solutions while nurturing citizen engagement and development debate.  We must all become activists, not pacifists in the search for Africa-centric development solutions that are economically viable, socially relevant and environmentally benign. Increasing the participation of women in media is key.

 

Next month, the international community will gather in Paris for the 21st meeting of the Convention of Parties to discuss climate change.  I will have the privilege of leading my country’s delegation and making the case for the extreme vulnerability that a changing climate poses to the well-being of small island developing states.

 

Africa’s voice must be heard loudly and media have a central role to play in articulating positions and enabling African voices to be heard.  Mobilizing cutting-edge knowledge and forging partnerships anchored in the common good for the benefit of all must become our guiding mantra.

 

And we must dare to dream and bend technology for social purpose.  How can we increase development content in African media?  And will it be mobile friendly, designed for a small screen?

 

Perceptions of Africa have changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Frequently viewed as a continent of wars, famines, and entrenched poverty in the late 1990s, there is now a focus on “Africa Rising” and an “African 21st Century.”  Let us wrest this momentum and craft a positive, hopeful narrative and bend it for social purpose.

 

In September 2015, world leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and helped set a bold, new development agenda for the next 15 years.

 

I believe now is the time to rededicate ourselves to achieving these goals by 2030.  African media have a role – a significant one – to play in achieving the goals.  Because sustainable development takes time, we cannot afford to fail yet another generation.  In the words of President Obama, our actions must be guided by the ‘fierce urgency of now.’

 

Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

To conclude, let me say unequivocally that media matter, both in development and for societal advance.

 

Let this Seventh edition of the AMLF become the launch pad for new ideas, new momentum, and a new narrative that takes us forward, toward greater transparency, more effective government and more engaged citizens.

 

Let us all strive to put the “D” of development firmly back in media.  In doing so, we would also have furthered the cause of media development.

 

As Kofi Annan has said, “Africa is on its way to becoming a preferred investment destination, a potential pole of global growth, and a place of immense innovation and creativity. But there is also a long way to go — and Africa’s governments must as a matter of urgency turn their attention to those who are being left behind. I believe Africa and its leaders can rise to this challenge. If they do, Africa will become more prosperous, stable and equitable.”

 

Our time for action is now.

 

Thank you for your attention.  I now formally declare the Forum open.

 

Speech by Eric Chinje CEO, African Media Initiative; At the Opening of the 7th AMLF

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The 7th Edition of the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF), Johannesburg, South Africa

                                                                   November 12, 2015

                                                                     Opening Remarks

Your excellencies, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen: welcome to the seventh edition of the African Media Leaders Forum and the first to take place in the southern half of the continent. Thank you, South Africa, and thank you Johannesburg for hosting us this week.

For those among us who pray, I will pause for a second for you to intercede with the one you pray to, to give us the wisdom to make of this gathering a successful convergence of the minds on the things that we must do to strengthen the role of media in our changing African society.

We have a fairly unique gathering here today and I hope we succeed in making this a unique event. We have a Head of State who is unique in many ways within the African leadership constellation; we have a member of the top leadership of the United Nations; we have a most effacing member of the elite club of Nobel Prize winners; we have globally recognized authors and academics, and we have some of the continent’s top media leaders in the room today.

We are gathered here to discuss a subject that was defined after extensive consultation with media leaders across Africa: “Shaping Development Conversations in Africa: the Role of Media in a Digital Environment.” Respondents seemed to have reacted to the findings of a survey we carried out last year that concluded, in essence, that media was generally absent from discussions on major quality-of-life issues in Africa and they wanted us to put that on the agenda. An equally high number wanted us to focus on the critically important question of where technology was taking the media industry. We decided to combine the two questions and came up with what will be the focus of the next two days of deliberations..

We all agree that media in Africa continues to face some daunting challenges. Political opening and technological innovation in the last two decades resulted in an unprecedented expansion of media, bringing in new and often ill-prepared players into the industry. These developments brought to the fore some previously latent issues of capacity, professionalism, financing, technological adaptation, regulation, and management. The quality of journalism dipped, the place of the journalist in society slipped, and the role of media in accompanying the social, economic and political transformations became open to question.

AMI was established some eight years ago to help drive the search for solutions to the problems of the industry. The need for a structure of this nature was identified in one of the most extensive research projects ever carried out on media and at the behest of the 2005 summit meeting in Gleneagle, Scotland, of the Group of Eight.

AMI came into being in 2008 and has since incubated ideas that are helping redefine the African media landscape: the leadership and guiding principles that emphasize ethics in journalism; the Story Challenge that is driving quality content production; the Digital Innovation Programme that seeks to mainstream innovation and technological adaptation in the industry, and the AMLF itself. AMI has supported such initiatives as Code4Africa, Africa Check, and others as a way to improve the quality of media in Africa.

The organization is moving on today to strengthen and deepen the work of media professionals. It is working to encourage the creation of platforms for knowledge-sharing across Africa and build practice communities around those issues that citizens care the most about. It is leading the effort to capture, package and share the Africa Story. We are engaged in a process to help media find its purpose in 21st century Africa!

I invite you today, ladies and gentlemen of the press, to open your minds to the possibilities of a new journalism that not only innovates but supports innovation in a modernizing continent; that not only grows but underscores growth and development of society; that not only generates the ideas that are the engine of social transformation but also moderates the debates that must sustain these societal changes.

Media does not exist for media’s sake alone! It cannot be all about some vague notion of power and a Fourth Estate, or about choosing winners and losers in politics, or about celebrating victors in sports or about celebrity gossip. The focus of media should not be only on survival strategies and financial gain, or about politics and corruption. There has to be a purpose that is bigger, nobler and more elevating! We need a new, collective and disruptive consciousness of the role of the media in Africa today.

So I invite you, once more, to see the challenges you face through the prism of the greater challenges that our continent faces, and to commit yourselves to contributing to the greater good by doing that which media does best: building an informed citizenry! You cannot inform if you are not informed! You cannot tell a story you do not know or understand! Your media organization cannot grow sustainably if the society in which it operates and our economies do not grow. You cannot gain the trust and respect of society if you are not driven by the urge to contribute to making society better. You will not regain the luster of a noble profession if your professional ethics are open to question and your mission is seen to be narrow and self-serving.

As we seek purpose in media, who else to tell us but our readers and audiences, consumers of the media product? Are we reaching out enough to them? Are we engaging them as we should: talking to the farmer in the rural community, to the young graduate seeking her first job in a tough labour market, to the entrepreneurs who is on a growth trajectory or the one who has fallen on hard times? Are we talking to the teacher and the pupil, the doctor and the patient, the judge and the prisoner? Do we know those we serve and strive to meet their needs?

These questions and much else will inform our discussions over the next couple of days. Let us take them on with clairvoyance and humble determination to find those answers that will allow us to strengthen media in Africa and accompany and strengthen 21st century transformations on the continent.

I thank you!

Speech By Trevor Ncube, Chairman, AMI Board, at the Opening of AMLF 2015

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Excellencies, all protocols observed;

Our profession on the continent suffers from a public trust deficit which we must attend to without further delay. And this is because of a combination of reasons. I will deal with the two most important namely;

 

We largely write for ourselves. We are distant and disconnected from the people. Our language is not theirs and the issues that we deal with are remote from their day today problems. And the herd mentality means we all rush to the same peripheral issues which hardly touch the lives of the ordinary people on the continent.

 

Our challenge is to tell the business and financial story in a manner that will be easy to digest by both the investor and the Africa consumer. We identify and create opportunities for investors when we surface the basic day to day problems that the African consumer faces. Business makes money by addressing day to day human challenges.

 

The second issue is much graver. For society to take us seriously we must first take ourselves seriously. This means we must deal with the professional, ethical and leadership shortcomings in our midst.  Politicians, business and the public don’t hold us in very high regard. Most of this is largely because of the way we conduct ourselves, the perception that we don’t read and research properly before we write and that brown-envelop-journalism is still a factor on the continent.

 

I realize that there is a huge difference between perception and reality. But life has also taught me that perception is the reality that we must deal with. And in our case the perception and the reality is that we are not very different from Sepp Blatters FIFA.

 

We live at a time when there has never been greater transparency, when companies and organizations are no longer able to resist public scrutiny, no matter how powerful they are. This new kind of transparency has been made possible thanks in large part to a new set of tools. These new tools, and new technologies which on the face of it are stunningly simple because they are mostly powered by social sharing, have created an unprecedented level of instant sharing of information that should be cherished by every journalist.

 

If you sift through some of the naturally frivolous exchanges that are part of social media, you begin to grasp that many companies and organizations are being held to account via these platforms.

 

What’s more exciting is that it is no longer left just to journalists to ask the tough questions. There has been a democratization of scrutiny and it’s truly fascinating to watch an ordinary citizen take on a big institution and receive answers. The power of the RT and the hashtag on Twitter are the worst nightmare of an organization that wishes to hide something.

 

 

But there’s obviously something else at play and that is the availability of powerful analytical tools at the hands of journalists. The big data moment has arrived for any journalist that takes the time to master many of the tools that IBM, Google and others provide for free. It is my hope that this generation of journalists will harness the combined power of all these tools to strengthen the continent’s media capacity.

 

Armed with this kind of data and tools for accurate analysis, we will be the journalists at the forefront of delivering a new level of transparency in developmental news. This is a vital pre-requisite for sustainable economic development. Without it our economies will always perform far below their potential.

 

And given the rate of global innovation, we  need to invest in journalists that can hold their own in a world in which capital, rather than politics increasingly shapes the global agenda. The African Media Initiative is focused on setting the standard and also the tone for in-depth analysis and coverage of business and economic growth. As we have seen over the past three years of Africa Rising, it is not possible to trumpet Africa’s economic renaissance if the citizens remain uninformed about developmental matters.

 

Perhaps the real opportunity for us as professionals is that just as in the 60s when Africa was democratizing quickly, right now there’s a similar advance in economic terms. The continent has some of the world’s fastest economies and it can no longer be left to the foreign media to send in their journalists to give both the world and Africans an in-depth sense of how our economies are shaping up. We need our own journalists, familiar with the markets and the societies and the languages to bring to readers and the markets high quality business and financial reporting. Whether it is the private investor or the Ratings Agency, there is a need for access to independent, accurate financial news.

 

Most of you will know by now that I am passionate about Africa. My friend and colleague Charles Onyango-Obbo who is editor of Mail & Guardian Africa the other day was saying if our passion for Africa could be listed on the stock exchange we would make a lot of money.

 

I am done with complaining about how international media covers Africa. Instead I believe that the time for Africans to tell their own stories has arrived. We have beautiful stories to tell. And these are stories of how Africans live and not how they die. And we must also tell the stories of our struggles and failures.

 

For us to be able to tell these stories we must be credible, informed and trusted by the public, politicians and business. Our weaknesses have been used to rubbish and compromise us for a long time. It is time to grow a crop of media leaders and journalists who are reputable, credible and independent minded. And when it comes to financial and business journalism we have the uphill task of being much more informed than the corporate sector that we write about and to write in a manner that is easy to understand by the majority. This is not an easy task.

 

I believe that society expects us to lead. And lead from the front. We can only do this if we are well read, informed and ethical. While society is absorbed by the here and now our task is to take a long term view of problems our societies face.  We are expected to take unpopular but principled positions on contemporary issues. We are not running for political office or in the business of popularity stakes and so we should be able to afford this.

 

I love that digital tools have made the work of despots and dictators that much harder. Gone are the days when all a despot facing rebellion from his citizens had to do was take the radio and TV off air. Now Social media, independent websites, YouTube and other tools will carry the story. Uncensored. And this is the worst nightmare of those who rely on brute force to stay in power. The US Godfather of Hip-Hop, Gil Scott-Heron famously said that the revolution would not be televised, but were he alive today he would have said that ‘the revolution will be tweeted’

 

Lastly let me say that if the internet has in many ways made it easier for the media to operate with greater freedom, it also has unfortunately added barriers to meaningful journalism. There is no polite way to put this. There’s a lot of junk on the internet. Catchy headlines are often used to bait readers who don’t find the story promised. Clickbait is real and there is a justifiable backlash against it.

 

For my generation who grew up with state broadcasters and official newspapers, it has been exciting to be involved in pushing back against state monopoly on media. What my generation has achieved is significant. But I have no doubt that it is nothing compared to what the present generation is going to achieve. Be brave, organized and use your networks to build an infrastructure of independent, credible media voices that strengthen freedom of expression for all and not just your colleagues.

 

Thank you

Opening Address by Honourable Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: AMLF 2015

Jeff Radebe

Opening Address by Honourable Mr Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, and Member of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa – during the 7th edition of the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) held in Johannesburg from the 11th to the 13th of November 2015

 

 

Programme Director and fellow participants in this programme

Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the President of the Republic of Mauritius

Mr Trevor Ncube, Chairperson of African Media Initiative and members of the Board present

Mr Eric Chinje, Chief Executive Officer of the African Media Initiative and his Executive Management Team

Mr Mathatha Tsedu, chair of the AMLF Local Organising Committee

Media owners, editors, journalists and distinguished guests

 

It is with great honour and privilege to be invited by the Board and Management of Africa Media Initiative to open this 7th edition of the African Media Leaders Forum on behalf of His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I welcome you all to South Africa and Johannesburg.

 

The theme of this conference is about ‘Media and Development: Shaping Conversations in Africa’.This is a very welcome debate by the African media leaders and intelligentsia since it will ensure that the ‘fourth estate’ does engage meaningfully with issues of development in our beloved continent, Africa.

 

In my speech I will briefly reflect on the experience of South Africa, and highlight some pertinent issues that are facing Africa, and then relate our trajectory of development as a continent to the global environment.

 

As South Africa we have recently adopted our first National Development Plan (NDP) and Vision 2030, which is an embodiment of our collective development goals and aspirations as a society in relation to the elimination of the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The South Africa’s Development Indicators report that we have recently published shows a mixed bag of progress in some areas and weakness in others.

 

The NDP builds on the foundation that has been laid over the past in relation to our quest to create a new society free of Apartheid colonialism and its related negative political, social and economic impacts.  It is common knowledge that under Apartheid rule a culture of secrecy, disinformation, and restrictions on press freedom were a norm; as journalists were subjected to harassment and some newspapers closed down.

 

As we gather here, I have a sense of déjà vu as I remember an occasion in 1991 whereby the newly unbanned liberation movement, the African National Congress, convened a meeting of approximately 300 delegates to discuss the drafting of the media policy and led to the adoption of the Media Charter which remains the policy of that organisation as the ruling party of the Government of South Africa. That charter broadened the debate and addressed issues like basic human rights and media freedom, democratisation of the media, the relationship between those working in media and society, media education and training, and proactive measures to promote diversity in the society that we were envisaging then. Policy documents and subsequent multiparty negotiations laid a basis for the current Constitution of the Republic of South Africa that was adopted in 1996, whose Section 16 guarantees:

  • Freedom of press and other media, and
  • Freedom to receive and impart information or ideas.

 

Furthermore, in Section 32 of the Bill of Rights, our Constitution guarantees access to “any information held by the state; and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights”. Our well-known statute called the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 has been used effectively by journalists and other persons to defend this right over the years. By guaranteeing access to information we believe that we open doors for the implementation of other rights that are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, including other similar international obligations that we subscribe to. Through our legal framework we value human rights, transparency, accountability, equality, justice, good governance and democracy.

 

Recently, President Jacob Zuma delivered the Percy Qoboza memorial lecture where he declared that: “Never again will our nation witness the harassment of the free media such as occurred on Wednesday, October 1977, when the Apartheid regime clamped down on the media, banning two newspapers, The World and The Weekend World and arresting the editor and other brave journalists who stood up to the regime.” This reminder and clarion call by our President seeks to ensure that as a new democracy we cherish these freedoms and ideals, and we also ensure that they inform our outlook in terms of engaging with other nations across the world on matters of democracy and development.

 

With freedom comes obligations. The development imperative that is on the agenda of this meeting is one of those obligations that media owners and practitioners should always take into consideration when exercising their craft. Since 1994, as the democratic government we have seen media as a partner and a powerful independent agent for social change. It is the inherent role of the media to inform, educate and entertain everyone, not just the selected minority. This helps empower people to form their own views and opinions, and become active citizens who are able to use the information to engage meaningfully on matters of development that affect them on a daily basis. Most importantly, the media helps build active citizenry that is able to hold powerful actors in society to account, including the private and public sector leadership and organisations.

 

In South Africa we have made significant progress in terms of media transformation, which is part of the broader developmental agenda to eradicate the legacy of Apartheid. There is still much to be done since, for instance, print media ownership patterns remain largely untransformed and alternative voices – more especially of the poor and most disadvantaged – still remain largely unheard in the media environment. We champion community media to help fill this gap at grassroots level.

 

The NDP invites all of us to build a capable and developmental state that is underpinned by active citizenry – and I strongly believe that media can play a pivotal role in terms of achieving this development agenda.

 

South Africa does not exist in a vacuum. We are part and parcel of the African continent.  Hence we have committed our country to contribute towards the creation of a better South Africa, a better and safer Africa in a better world. From a media perspective, the South African Government supports or is signatory to a number of international instruments, protocols and charters such as: the African Charter on People and Human Rights, Windhoek Declaration, Johannesburg Principles, the SADC protocol, the African Charter on Broadcasting, the Access to Airwaves principles, the Dakar Declaration, the Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa, among others. These instruments create an enabling environment for all of us to build strong media that contributes to social, cultural, political and economic development and emancipation. Let us take advantage of this splendid opportunity to make a difference in our life time.

 

This conference occurs at a time when human development indicators are beginning to show significant shifts in relation to the trajectory of African development, as the latest African Development Indicators report recognises the positive impact of the policies that have been adopted by various African governments and as well as better informed citizens. That report notes the following positive trends, among other things:

  • The continent has experienced rapid economic growth at an average rate of 5% over the past decade, against global challenges;
  • More than 80% of Africans have access to mobile phones, a trend that is now characterised as an Information Technology Revolution;
  • For the first time in history, poverty has been declining with the absolute number of people living under $1.25 per day falling by 9 million.

 

This is a good story to tell about our beloved continent. And our collective tasks as leaders, including media leaders gathered here, is to ensure that these positive trends are sustained and the fruits of this development are experienced by all our people.The remaining challenges of conflict, malnutrition, pandemics, illiteracy, unemployment, environmental hazards and gross inequalities should be eradicated where they still persist.

 

In January 2015, the Heads of State and Governments of the African Union, assembled in Addis Ababa during the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union – where they adopted Agenda 2063. Agenda 2063 is a long-term vision and a commitment of Africans themselves to achieve the following aspirations:

  1. A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
  2. An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance;
  3. An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law;
  4. A peaceful and secure Africa;
  5. An Africa with strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics;
  6. An Africa where development is people-driven, unleashing the potential of its women and youth; and
  7. Africa as strong, united and influential global player and partner.

 

Agenda 2063 is aligned to the emerging global consensus regarding the shift from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Media will be very instrumental in ensuring that as Africans we are well-informed of the steps that are required to implement in order to achieve these developmental aspirations and goals. They should provide platforms for the battle of ideas in this regard.

 

All sectors of societies within the African countries should strive to make the 50-year vision of the ‘Africa We Want’ a reality by implementing practical programmes, strategies and social compacts that will take us gradually towards its attainment in 2063. We can achieve this if we work together as various stakeholders in society. Media holds the key since its core business is about information and knowledge dissemination. It should play its watchdog role without fear, favour nor prejudice. Media should defend the development progress made thus far and challenge governments, civil society, and private sector to always act in a manner that put people first and contributes meaningfully towards socio-economic development. This should be done in a manner that is genuinely participatory, rights-based and respectful of the diversity of views and voices. Media should be the voice of the voiceless indeed.

 

As you are gathered here in Johannesburg, do remember that this is the very same place where gatherings like these would not have been permitted under the Apartheid regime just about more than 20 years ago.We owe this freedom and democracy to the militancy of the media practitioners and leaders from across globe, the sacrifices of our fellow African brothers in Africa and diaspora, and all peoples of the world who actively stood up against Apartheid chauvinism.

 

The struggle for emancipation of the poor in Africa and globally from the chains of poverty and under-development is a long-term journey that we should all embark on with more vigour, solidarity and determination. We dare not let down our people at a time when they expect more from us in terms of information and provision of better education, health, skills, employment, housing, water, governance, social protection, and eradication of poverty.

 

We should produce information and develop measures that will make all peoples of Africa to face socio-economic risks and environmental hazards with greater preparedness and resilience – better informed by our various media platforms who play a key role in terms of early-warning and proper response mechanisms.

 

The new ICT revolution in Africa brings about new opportunities for media to reach the previously marginalised groups and present innovative solutions in terms of empowering citizens of the African continent to determine their own development and livelihoods.

 

We echo the voices of our current African leaders when they call us into action through Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want – with a vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.

 

Again, I congratulate the organisers of this event for being bold and visionary in terms of creating a space to engage on this powerful theme of ‘media and development – shaping conversation in Africa’, which challenges media leaders to question the place and role of media owners, journalists, rights activists, and industry experts in the social, political and economic development of Africa.

 

 

I thank you all.

Remarks by Mamadou Biteye, OBE Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office At the 7th AMLF

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Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, all protocol observed as we say in Kenya.

 

Good morning.

 

When you think of “the African story”, what is the first notion that comes to mind? It might be one of the following:

You might think  poverty…war…corruption…or disease

You may also think  economic growth…tourist attractions…and emerging development sectors

Or you may also think the remarkable diversity of its people, a mix of 54 countries and their cultures and the tremendous ideas that this produces, and the potential we represent?

 

Evidently, news about Africa today is not always shiny, it is even often negative.

 

I have heard it said of media practice that if it bleeds, it leads, no? In Africa’s case, the focus on what is going wrong is particularly harmful, because there are copious amounts of accessible sources of knowledge about the continent, available for use verification. I am not certain this knowledge is always used for this purpose.

 

Furthermore, even when what is wrong is the accurate story, many times it is just one side of the story, or the single story as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has told us before – incomplete, stereotyped and specious.

 

For example, reports on conflict in some African countries seem to give the impression that all of Africa is at constant war, yet none would associate the violence in East Timor, Syria, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, with Asia as a whole.

 

Media reporting on Africa seldom focuses on everyday matters or the curiosities of daily life. The result is an idea that the African crisis is “normal” – and any “good news” about the continent is an exception, not the norm.

 

For years now, we have been discussing how Africa is rising, and also how to forge a positive yet balanced African narrative. We in our different capacities are all responsible for our part in building that narrative, in schools, development organisations, governments, private sector and elsewhere. We all contribute to the tale in our different niches through the change we are making, but the media has a special and critical role to play.

 

There have been numerous calls for journalists especially from Africa, to tell “the African story” better than how it has been done for decades – to reflect its true state, its hope and its steady growth. News is often the first source of information and knowledge, unfortunately many times the reference is done without paying keen attention on the credibility of the source.

 

Consequently, each member of the Fourth Estate should ask himself/herself, “What can I do to improve Africa’s narrative? What should I do to shape the conversation on Africa?” because indeed the rest of the world is also talking about Africa, has always and will continue to do so. [PAUSE, EXPLAIN]

 

Secondly, do you ask yourself ‘Why do I report on this story?’  Is it just to get the job done and get paid – and this is only in those instances where the media do get paid – or is it to bring about desired change, and also equip citizens with information and help them hold stakeholders to account?

 

Some surely do, as in recent years African journalists have been recognized on global platforms for excellent work, so there is progress to report on the practice. Yet, the media still needs to take advantage of the growth and report on a better Africa.

 

But to shape the conversations on Africa’s development in this age, African media will need

 

Greater commitment to original research and focus/investigative journalism – Many African news outlets rely on foreign/western-based news agencies to tell stories about other African countries – and thus contribute to spreading  the dominant narratives even when they are not accurate. What is needed now, more than ever, is a multiplicity of stories from within to provide a different perspective. To do that, we will need to invest more in information and data and learn how to use it in the journalism trade, to be able to tell balanced and credible stories.

 

There are also be issues that are important to the continent yet are not well covered by the media; one example is the African youth and the issues they face. Africa currently has the highest youth population in the world, which is set to double to 400 million by 2050. Interestingly, the rate at which they are growing, is not matching the provision of their needs, in terms of quality education, jobs etc.

 

Tomorrow night we will recognize African reporting on youth demographics, our way of encouraging more insights into this portion of our growing population, because they are a force to reckon with, and need our attention if we are to remain a productive and stable continent.

 

Professionalism – There needs to be greater investment made in training programs, local and otherwise, to help journalists acquire the skills they need to succeed in media practice, and to be able to stand on the global stage to speak with authority on African matters.

 

Greater freedom of the press is a key component of democracy, many African countries still have their media gagged, with many journalists suffering adversely. In this age, this is unacceptable. Africa’s citizens need to be allowed access to information that comes from a free press, it gives them power to make informed decisions, and contribute to their economies and livelihoods. There needs to be better, non-threatening partnership between media and many African states, with the governments providing the enabling environment for issues to be discussed openly and freely for the public good.

 

Change agents – The media has an agenda setting role, to bring issues into open discussion for the public good. This needs to be approached with a strong sense of commitment and dedication, with the aim of improving the continent, the lives of its people, and its systems.

At the Rockefeller Foundation, we are humbly trying to positively contribute to the shaping of Africa’s history through our two goals of promoting inclusive growth and building resilience. Both are aimed at improving people’s lives, and ensuring they have access to what they need for better quality of life. In the event of a disaster, that they bounce back better than before, and thrive on.

In the course of our work, we come across many compelling examples of how lives are being improved, and those are stories that deserve to be told to the world, and told accurately. Earlier this week a group of journalists here benefitted from a training on resilience reporting. It is our hope that the skills and knowledge they acquired will enable them to draw out more and better stories on how Africa and its people are dealing with the issues that affect them on a daily basis, and how they are developing coping strategies to help them survive and thrive in the aftermath.

Powerful stories that leaders will see and be compelled to invest more in resilience building systems, infrastructure and capacities, to improve the lives of vulnerable populations.

I know that our discussions in the next two days will include the methods through which the right issues and the right stories can be told, and in the right way.

 

I look forward to it and wish you all an insightful time.

 

Thank you.

Keynote speech of Mr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretaryof the Economic Commission for Africa; At 7th Edition of AMLF

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues,

 

I am glad I have an opportunity to engage you for the second time. In the Addis Ababa gathering I sensed my remarks about the evolution of Africa’s narrative being permeated by an historical inferiority bias was received with mixed feelings. Not that this audience does not understand such a point, but rather that you believe your role is not to sugar coat Africa’s problems and challenges. Presenting an argument that we have been sort of mistreated is therefore perceived by all of you as obvious, hence not that exciting or even useful.

 

I could have learned my lesson and come back this time with harsh criticism of our state of affairs. After all this is a year that makes it easy to be pessimistic.

 

Commodity prices are down, oil exporter African champions are exceptionally worried with the depressive markets, Chinese and other major developing countries demand is depressed, our number one trading block, the EU, is experiencing low growth and the currency markets are under spectacular volatility, on the expectation of a possible interest rates rise in the US. Add to this Mo Ibrahim Index 2015 for the first time in a decade observing governance gains in the continent are stalling, the news focusing on migrants crossing desert and sea and Boko Haram and the likes running havoc in the continent.

 

Yet, at the risk of disappointing many, I will persevere on my quest to counter the bad news about the continent.

 

Today’s news cycle has gone into overdrive. It is natural the attention span of the media tries to catch with a world where communications is available in so many formats and news are consumed on the go. It is difficult, under such circumstances, to dwell on explanations that require context, are counter-intuitive and try to beat well established perceptions. Well…as I will try to do just that, I need your indulgence. If I take the risk is because I know you are only satisfied when there is an undeniable fact behind an argumentative line.

I would like to focus my intervention on three points: countering stereotypes and perceptions about Africa; the need for quality data and, finally, the role of the media as a provider of a public good.

 

Let me start with the issue of countering stereotypes on Africa and debunking myths and perceptions.

 

Last time we met I revisited the historical underpinnings of Africans being treated as inferior and Africa has a continent that only started to matter with the colonial adventure. The modern version of the same is to question whether Africa is a protagonist or a subject of international relations.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

At this very moment many of our Heads of State are busy finding their way to La Valetta, in Malta, to respond to an EU call for a meeting on what is termed “the migration crisis”. Is the presence of African leaders to be recognized as subjects or protagonists?

The argument that migration is a crisis by itself deserves some assessment. I wrote recently a piece on the subject where I tried to contextualize. My key argument was to say that 2 million Africans going to Europe a year, represents roughly 0, 2% of Africa’s population of 1 billion. Just the crossings from Mexico into the US is larger. This is a tiny number that is likely to grow as our population doubles by 2050 and Europe ageing gets into higher gear. It is a phenomenon that Europe knows well as it populated different regions of world when their population was much younger and was looking for opportunities elsewhere. It happened when Europe was depressed but faster when it was actually growing. I do not understand how the discussion on African migration can be centered on filtering centres after what is happening in Papua New Guinea on behalf of Australia. Or how could the idea of bombing boat people be considered in light of the Vietnamese boat people experience, at that time considered heroes. Not to mention the absurdity that it would have been to bomb the boats of European migrants that massively moved to South America in the aftermath of WW II.

 

So what would the La Valetta encounter produce? Most African media will just relay the superficial facts without historical and data comparison. And we will move on.

 

I will give you another example: Africa is a risky place to invest and there is a crisis now.

 

It is known that important investors in Africa do not want the good news to spread out. They prefer the narrative to be as pessimistic as possible because it serves two purposes: it dissuades competitors; but, more importantly, it extracts fabulous deals with desperate locals. Typically an investor will have concessions and tax breaks for a period of time and will just close the operations or change the agreements when the sunset clause comes to be. A new deal from scratch will have to be negotiated. It is not an exaggeration to say that some extractive industry activities are being paid to operate if one considers tax breaks, profit flying and illicit flows.

 

Despite all of the above intra-African investment has been growing since 2007, at a 32.5% compound rate. South Africa is leading, followed closely by Morocco and Nigeria. What African investors have discovered is what a few outside the continent have known all along. In 2011, the rate of return on inward FDI in Africa (9.3 per cent) was the highest compared to other regions of the world, such as 8.8 per cent in Asia and 4.8 per cent in developed economies. This is important because it means Africans are not just asserting themselves in a new political narrative. They are also investing more in their own continent. Fortunately newcomers are following. FDI attained US$ 54 billion last year. This year we have already surpassed this figure. As more realize Africa is not as risky an investment decision as it may appear why is it this is not reflected in the mainstream views?

 

For the majority it is not reflected because in Africa it is said there are too many wars and conflicts. There is a persistent perception that Africa is a continent linked with conflict. Any good news is localized whereas the bad news are generalized.

Despite far more grievous and violent conflicts taking place in other regions, that is not the mainstream view. 100 million Africans affected by conflict is indeed a lot. But what about the remaining 90%. In Asia almost a third more people are killed by conflicts than Africa. There are more people killed in the conflicts of India alone, with Kashmir and the Naxalite insurgency, than in the whole of the Great Lakes. However, people normally only hear about conflicts in Africa because these are in the agenda of the UN Security Council, which brings back the question of being protagonists or subjects. Conflicts in Ukraine, Colombia, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, India, Thailand or Myanmar are not on the active agenda of the Security Council. Neither is there a military foreign mission for the piracy of the Strait of Malacca, bordering Malaysia and Singapore, despite having twice the number of attacks the Somali Coast had at the height of its crisis.

 

Even though the specialists know the truth, the conflict image derails the perceptions.

 

Ernst & Young most recent investment attractiveness report, ranks Africa as the second most attractive investment destination, second only to Southeast Asia. The World Bank predicts that by 2030 the continent’s savings will be in the range of 23 trillion USD, from the current 12 trillion.  Rand Merchant Bank estimates over 5% growth in disposable income in the coming years. McKinsey projects Africa as the second fastest consumer growth market. Deloitte & Touche says that is true for investment on the same consumer market by 2017. Standard Chartered Bank believes the actual real growth in the continent may be closer to 7% if the real numbers could be mastered. Financial data provider Dealogic predicts more than 656 mergers and acquisition deals may have taken place in 2014, up from 67 in 1995. Financial Times reports that the London Stock Exchange “is launching an aggressive attempt to increase the number of listings of African companies”, given the enormous demand for these stocks.

 

So why is it that even Africa media coverage is so negative about economic facts?

 

The IMF World Economic Outlook, just released, reported that Africa is host to five of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world. Again. This report is based on 2014 data. If continents were ranked, which the Outlook does do, but one can calculate, Africa will be the past and incoming top performer.

 

I like to quote these figures because they represent the views of institutions that are not associated with a favourable treatment of Africa. This being said most of the indexes are actually biased against Africa, due to the way they continue to perceive the economic evolution of the continent. A few examples.

 

On the Ease of Doing Business index, critics are quick to point out that Ethiopia does not rank very positively. It moved from position 127 in 2013, to 125 in 2014, and 148 in 2015.  Yet, what is remarkable is that its FDI inflows jumped from 153 million USD in 2013 to 1, 2 billion in 2014. Its GDP grew by 9.8% in 2013 and by 10.3% in 2014. The global ranking did not seem to capture business confidence. Another top-five global performer by GDP growth is DRC, actually third in 2014. For DRC the Ease of Doing Business rankings were even worse – 181, 183 and 187 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Yet FDI inflows were 2 billion USD in each if the three years making it one of the top destinations in Africa, second only to South Africa. Its economy grew (based on GDP) by 8.5% and 9.2% in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

 

The competitiveness index is even worse because it is based on the quality of regulation. No surprise Switzerland, where its producer the WEF is based ranks first. Transparency Index is based on perceptions of business leaders. You can imagine what they think of Africa.

 

Three weeks ago I was in New Delhi for the India-Africa Summit. The city was decorated with tributes to the friendship between our continent and this country that has a larger population than ours and is now celebrated as the star performer of the world economy.  I was struck by the logo of the Conference having the maps of Africa and India the same size when India is actually smaller than DRC alone.

 

But such views are in fact to be expected. A recently ECA published Africa-India fact book shows that in 2013, 16% of India’s total outward foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks were in Africa for the equivalent of USD 70 billion. Yet more impressive is the fact that compared to Brazil, China, the Russian Federation and the USA, Africa has invested more in India with its FDI stock closer to USD 65 billion, accounting for an impressive 26% of India’s total inward FDI stocks. When I said so before 1400 business delegates the Foreign Minister of India was seating next to me. I could imagine her unease, and surprise.

 

I said proudly that 2014 the continent benefited from 2 billion USD worth of India’s development partnership assistance. India has gone further to offer Lines of Credit worth 7.4 billion USD with the biggest recipients being the power and engineering sectors. Africans have also benefitted from 25,000 scholarships as a direct impact of the second India Africa Summit and today the number of African students attending Indian tertiary institutions exceeds 6,000. But I added that these achievements were even more impressive considering Africa’s GDP per capita has been one third higher than India’s over the last ten years and our share of international trade surpasses India’s.

 

We have to confront the public with new narratives. We have to also use them for our negotiations and dialogue with our friends. It is important for people to know that all sound and buzz about China’s investments in Africa actually is very very misleading. Africa’s proportion of total Chinese FDI stock is less than 1%. Yes, my friends, all Chinese investment in Africa, I repeat, is less than 1%, or equivalent of what they invest in the world. The size of their FDI stock is like, say, Italy.

 

More important than be fired up by the nature of our partnerships is the need for us to address our challenges. In Africa the 3000 richest individuals have an accumulated wealth approaching 400 billion USD. Together with the 600 billion USD our Central Banks accumulated in reserves,that makes 1 trillion USD. Are we discussing these?

 

 

Let me now turn to the importance of quality data.

 

Tracking news media trends should not only be the purview of large media houses and developed markets. Yes, we have a fragmented media terrain underpinned by over 2000 languages to contend with in 54 countries. None of the languages we have inherited – English, French, Arabic, Portuguese or Spanish (in a limited way) can meet the need for content.  We need to start using mobile technologies to track the sector so that the media can make the necessary adjustments and innovate around the use of social media and apps.

Data should allow perspectives from average citizens. We advocate for an open data community approach which allows for better decision-making.  As an example, during the Ebola crisis, health workers collaborated with mobile data operators to track people leaving funerals and were thus able to check the spread of the epidemic. Then there is the use of mobile phones for data collection. ECA is working with six countries to look at citizens as data collectors – not in the sense of crowd sourcing but in terms of access to structured statistics. We are aiming to build a firm data foundation. The approach to statistics as a part and parcel of the media’s internalization of the world around us must change. We are supporting the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics initiative as a means to address Africa’s scandal of invisibility. Africa’s initiatives in this area include accelerated improvements on CRVS to help countries plan and improve their systems.

 

Let me give one example: the so-called rebasing exercises. Most African journalists criticized the increase in GDP volumes, whereas foreign media was quick in these instances to point to weaknesses in the Africa rising story due to faulty data. In fact a good system is the one that has adopted the latest methodological standard for National Accounts, which was approved in 2008. National Accounts should not have a base year that is older than five. However, many African countries are still using the standard of 1993 and are way behind the five years of base line.

 

When Nigeria rebased its economy, in 2013, and became instantly the largest economy in Africa many were skeptical, although this was absolutely right and necessary. Prior to that, Nigeria’s economy was reported against a base year of 1990, that is, its GDP was compared to the situation then. The change of base year to 2010 included activities in the creative and financial sectors that have grown exponentially since the 1990s. If we take into account what has been discovered by the rebasing exercises of the last five years in several African countries we are probably undervaluing Africa’s GDP by at least 21%. Imagine the shift in perspective and investment potential for those that are still underestimating their GDPs.

 

Ultimately we need a Data Revolution. ECA and partners are working to promote the concept of data communities as a way to open up the data ecosystem to more stakeholders. An African data consensus has been drafted that proposes the accreditation of data communities and mandating them to collect, curate and disseminate data in their areas of expertise.

 

Critiques will argue that opening up data is foolhardy. After all, a statistician may not have much in common with a media practitioner. Once the terrain of the military, surveyors and geodesists, it was only when it was opened up for companies to innovate and make money from GPS-based services that we saw an improvement of equipment in ways that were unforeseen, ultimately leading to the advent of many services that we now take for granted, such as Google Maps, turn-by-turn directions built into the dashboards of cars, or fitness-tracking services such as Fitbit.

 

We need a new business model for incubating data services to create initiatives and innovative projects that emerge from freed up data. When young people have access to data, they can make money from it, or turn them into viable tools for citizenry. The introduction of GPS services did not affect the relevance of the geodesists and other spatial science specialists. In fact any services are still based on their continued research and development. In the same way developing new data businesses will not threaten the statisticians and data scientists. They would simply have new roles.

 

Freeing up data can spawn new ventures: In Nigeria, Budgit allows citizens to understand and follow government spending in Nigeria. In Kenya, iHub serves as a platform for technologies to come up with app-based solutions to African problems. “Kilimo” is an app generated from Ihub for enhancing sustainable agriculture practices and supporting farmers across Kenya.

 

The data that informs the narrative dictates the story. For the narrative to speak with authority and credibility, the media must engage with data and weave data within everyday reportage, into a language the average person can understand.  The media can embrace and innovate around credible data sources and spawn deeper and authentic homegrown ways of telling the story.

There is a need to upscale the capacity of the journalist to tell the story with the kind of depth and context that goes beyond a sound bite. Moving to the next level will mean adding value to the craft of journalism. People need to distinguish between the work of a career journalist and a citizen journalist, who can narrate a story in 140 characters and circulate it with lightning speed on Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter. The mainstream journalist must bring value to the craft and provide form and depth to the same story. That will require quality data.

 

Ladies and gentleman,

 

Let me conclude with the issue of media as a public good?

 

With the advent of new media, traditional business models are under a great deal of stress and we are witnessing the decline of profits within print media around the world. If sales are dropping in print media where are consumers going to for news?

 

The Atlantic published a piece with an apt headline “Facebook is eating the internet”. Facebook is going to control more of the arrangement and reap most of the financial benefits from commercial advertising. Facebook now pulls in roughly a quarter (24%) of all display ad revenue and more than a third (37%) of mobile display. McKinsey’s 2011 report “Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity”, says that it costs  600 USD to buy a disk drive that can store all the world’s music; On average 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every month.

 

There are over 6 billion smart phone users today – Africa has 21 million. As mobile telephones become increasingly ubiquitous, and all would eventually become smartphones, it will be only natural for users to check the news on their mobile devices, rather than buying newspapers or watch television. We will have to face a world where people will look for global trusted brands as well as very localized and narrow-minded ones. This will provoke concentration and fragmentation, simultaneously. This could threaten the noble function of media as a meaningful public good.

Both fragmentation and concentration have disadvantages. I hope we can agree on the need for economically viable business models that allow for independent thought, while serving the needs of the public. When there is an imbalance, it makes the job of shaping Africa’s narrative even more difficult.

 

I am conscious I am slowly entering your terrain and leaving mine. It is time to stop. But not before I call on you, after indulging on the defense of a new African narrative, to forgive me, for not having spoken about poverty, inequality, bad governance, corruption, disease and similar threats. These are all important challenges for us to tackle, crucial even for Africa to make it. But that you and I already know.