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

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


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


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.


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Call for Entries for the Second Edition

Nairobi, 5th August 2016 – The African Media Initiative is pleased to invite applications for the Second Edition of the Zimeo Excellence in Media Awards. The contest is open to professional journalists in Africa reporting or writing for print, radio, TV and digital and will recognize journalism excellence in the following categories:

1. Gender/Women’s rights
2. The youth agenda
3. Maritime economy
4. Business and finance
5. Science and Technology
6. Agriculture and food security
7. Health
8. Education
9. Peace and security
10. Energy & infrastructure
11. Extractive industries
12. Media and digital journalism
13. Conservation and climate change
14. African Union Agenda 2063
15. Sustainable Development Goals Reporting

Interested journalists are encouraged to present either single stories/articles or thematic packages in the following languages, English, French, Portuguese, Arabic and Kiswahili.

What are the Judges looking for?

Our pan African panel of judges will be looking for entries which:

• Demonstrate a high quality of reporting/writing in terms of originality, depth, rigour, research, investigative enterprise, innovativeness, clarity, proper sourcing, fairness, accuracy, exhaustive analysis of the context and background and an above average understanding of the subject matter.
• Are data-driven and use creative digital tools like mapping, crowdsourcing and visualization to help tell the story.
• Communicate the topic in a way that makes the story relevant and engaging to audiences and that contains evidence of its likely social impact or benefit to society.
• Provide, where possible, a pan-African perspective.
• Are multi-sourced.
• Were broadcast or published between July 2015 and July 2016. Proof of this will be required.

Detailed descriptions of the various categories can be found here:
The deadline for submission of entries is Thursday, 15th September 2016, atmidnight and the winning entries will be awarded during a Reporting Africa conference to be convened in Nairobi, Kenya, in November this year.

Applications or other materials sent by post, hand or fax will be rejected. All submissions must be in an electronic format. Contestants must download and fill in the entry form and send it via email with their updated CV attached to Download the form here:
For print, please include the PDF scan(s) of the published article. The text of the article must be legible. Maximum file size: 5 MB – Allowed format: PDF only.
For radio – please upload the file onto SoundCloud and provide the URL link on the entry form.

For digital, please include a working website link (URL) on the entry form
For TV material, please upload the video on YouTube and provide the URL link on the entry form.

For any queries, please contact:
Justus Machio
Media Outreach Officer
African Media Initiative

About AMI
AMI is an umbrella organisation that brings media owners together and seeks to find solutions to perennial problems facing the industry such as the lack of financing and solid business models, as well as difficulties in accessing the advertising market or even just good Internet connectivity. The organisation also aims to spur better journalism through various training programmes, including in data and development journalism.



July 15, 2016
Contact: Steven M. Ellis


Delegates from the International Press Institute (IPI) and the African Media Initiative (AMI) call on Zambian authorities to allow opposition daily The Post to reopen immediately, noting that the apparent politically motivated attempt to silence it ahead of elections is part of a chain of events raising deep concerns over the state of democracy in the country.

The delegates travelled to Lusaka from July 13 to 15, 2016 as part of a joint emergency press freedom mission in which they met with representatives from government, the leading opposition party, The Post, the judiciary, civil society and foreign diplomatic missions to discuss the June 21 closure of The Post’s offices and printing press, and the seizure of its assets, over disputed tax debts.

The groups note that an order by Zambia’s Revenue Appeals Tribunal last month set forth a path to resolve the matter, which centres on allegedly unpaid income tax withholding and VAT receipts. The order directs the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to release The Post’s bank accounts and hand back its premises and equipment so that it can conduct business. It also directs The Post to immediately pay whatever portion of a 53 million kwacha tax bill issued earlier this year that it believes is actually owed and to provide security for the remainder until the true amount can be determined.

The groups also note the arrest of Post Editor and Co-Founder Fred M’membe, his wife, Mutinta Mazoka-M’membe, and Post Deputy Managing Editor Joseph Mwenda after they entered the paper’s offices with the Tribunal’s order. The three, who were allegedly assaulted during the incident, were released but charged with uttering a forged document – the order – and criminal trespass.

The tax case against The Post is widely perceived to be the result of political pressure by Zambian President Edgar Lungu to silence critics of his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party ahead of next month’s elections, in which voters will elect the president and members of the General Assembly, and decide whether to adopt changes to the Bill of Rights in Zambia’s Constitution.

Zambia’s economy has suffered a downturn in recent years as a result of falling copper prices and other factors, making the collection of tax revenues that much more important. However a government spokesperson conceded that the ZRA has failed to act as aggressively to collect tax debts from media outlets sympathetic to the PF.

The representatives also note that government agents have raided printers suspected of printing copies of The Post in recent weeks, even though no court has deemed publication of the daily to be illegal. Government representatives have brushed off questions about one of those raids, claiming the printer was the target of unrelated charges, but they have failed to justify others.

The case targeting The Post has come amid an uptick in pressure on media, leading to a broader climate of self-censorship. The representatives note that in recent years journalists have complained of threats and harassment by Information Minister Chishimba Kambwili against journalists and outlets that engaged in critical, or insufficiently deferential, coverage.

Journalists have also reported harassment and threats from party cadres associated with both the PF and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), depending on the journalists’ media affiliation.

The tax case has also come amid an unprecedented surge in political violence, illustrated most recently in last week’s use by police in Lusaka of live ammunition to quell clashes with UPND supporters. One UNPD supporter was killed, leading the country’s election commission to order all campaigning in the capital city suspended for 10 days.

Zambia has enjoyed a reputation as a leader in respect for democracy and human rights in the region, but recent events have cast a troubling shadow over that reputation. Voters need and deserve to hear a full range of voices as they decide their future. The Post has played a vital role in providing an alternative to government dominated mass media. Unshackling that voice is critical if Zambians are to vote in an atmosphere that can be deemed free and fair. The sooner that this issue is resolved – and the sooner that The Post and all journalists who choose to play such a role are allowed to do so freely – the better.

The representatives therefore call on Zambia’s government to:

• Immediately drop all criminal charges against M’membe and the others charged with him, and hold those responsible for assaults on them accountable;
• Allow all media outlets in Zambia to operate independently and to cover all parties contesting the upcoming elections in a free and fair manner;
• Ensure that the ZRA, as well as all other government entities, is allowed to fulfil its statutory functions without political interference;
• Respect the independence of the judiciary and of the Revenue Appeals Tribunal, and play a leadership role in encouraging the ZRA as well as all other parties in proceedings before those bodies to respect and comply with their decisions;
• Come together with representations of all political parties contesting the upcoming elections to denounce political violence and pressure targeting journalists; and
• Publicly reaffirm the vital role of media freedom to democracy and ensure that all government officials respect it in line with Zambia’s domestic and international human rights commitments, and refrain from bringing political pressure to bear on media outlets.

The representatives further call on the ZRA and The Post to heed the aforementioned decision by the Revenue Appeals Tribunal and to work together to ensure that it is carried out.

-IPI Executive Board Chair John Yearwood
-AMI Senior Adviser Wangethi Mwangi
-IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis

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Left to right, African Media Initiative (AMI) Senior Adviser Wangethi Mwangi, Post Editor and Co-Founder Fred M’membe, International Press Institute (IPI) Executive Board Chair John Yearwood and IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis during a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia on July 14, 2016. Photo: IPI

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Journalists from Zambia’s The Post, working from their “mobile newsroom” on the street outside the publication’s shuttered offices on July 13, 2016. The newspaper has continued to publish a truncated print version since Zambia’s Revenue Authority seized its assets and closed its offices in June 2016. Photo: IPI

Focus on Africa Development Week 2016

Carlos Lopes: Rooting for blue economy

Carlos Lopes: Rooting for blue economy


Addis Ababa, April 2016 – At the African Development Week held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the issues for discussion included action plans to achieve regional integration, industrialization, migration and financing for development, the green economy, the problem of measuring corruption in Africa, and restoration of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Highlights of Economic Commission for Africa’s initiatives

  • Launch of Regional Integration in Africa VII and Africa Regional Integration Index to ensure the continent has “clear fact-based benchmarks and standards to assess its overall progress, and simultaneously provide a mechanism for comparing performance and learning from each other”.
  • Launch of Africa’s Blue Economy Policy Handbook, described as a tool to equip Africa harness “The New Frontier of African Renaissance”. Highlighting the importance of the blue economy, ECA’s Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes pointed out that,Freshwater and ocean fish make a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million Africans.”
  • Launch of Economic Report on Africa.

Source: Communication Section, ECA, Addis Ababa

A development agenda for the media

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Eric Chinje, CEO African Media Initiative 


AMI supports social media ethics code

April, 2016 — The African Media Initiative has asked to be listed as a supporter of a Social Newsgathering Code of Ethics launched on April 1, 2016, by the Online News Association.

The code, described by its sponsors as “a set of best practices that cover everything from verification to rights issues to the health and safety of sources — and of journalists themselves”, has attracted support from a variety of international media such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Eurovision News Exchange, Eyewitness Media Hub, First Draft,, Storyful, The Guardian, Verification Junkie, Ethical Journalism Network, Fresco News, and Verifeye Media.

At the launch, ONA’s board member and chair of its News Ethics Committee, Eric Carvin, said: “We’re constantly reminded of the need for best practices such as these. The recent bombings in Brussels, Ankara, Lahore and Yemen, among others, provided yet another stark and tragic reminder of how information and imagery spread, in a matter of moments, from the scene of an unexpected news event to screens around the world.”

He added: “Moments like these challenge us, as journalists, to tell a fast-moving story in a way that’s informative, detailed and accurate. These days, a big part of that job involves wading through a roiling sea of digital content and making sense out of what we surface.”

Welcoming the code, Eric Chinje, AMI’s chief executive officer, said the pan-African body had not hesitation in supporting the initiative, which, “in a very resounding way, buttresses our own efforts to strengthen the ethical basis of journalism”. He urged news organizations that care for entrenchment of professional standards to support the code and promote its application in their particular jurisdictions.

The code lays out the following practices:

  • Endeavoring to verify the authenticity of user-generated content before publishing or distributing it, holding it to standards that are equal or equivalent to those maintained for content acquired through other means.
  • Being transparent with the audience about the verification status of UGC.
  • Considering the the emotional state and safety of contributors.
  • Considering the risk inherent in asking a contributor to produce and deliver UGC, including whether it incentivizes others to take unnecessary risks.
  • Considering technical measures to ensure anonymity of sources when required.
  • Seeking informed consent for the use of UGC through direct communication with the individual who created it.
  • Being transparent about how content will be used and distributed to other platforms.
  • Giving due credit to the owner of the content providing that consideration has been given to potential consequences, including their physical, mental and reputational well-being.
  • Endeavoring to inform and equip journalists to confront the dangers of engaging with sources through social media networks and the digital footprint they leave behind.
  • Supporting and assisting journalists who are confronted with graphic or otherwise disturbing content. Maintaining an organizational culture that enables journalists to seek help or speak out when they need to protect their mental health. (

About AMI

AMI is an umbrella organisation that brings media owners together and seeks to find solutions to perennial problems facing the industry such as the lack of financing and solid business models, as well as difficulties in accessing the advertising market or even just good Internet connectivity. The organisation also aims to spur better journalism through various training programmes, including in data, basic science, and development journalism.


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Experts assess the way ahead for China


Ahead of China’s  annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s national english newspaper China Daily interviewed academics, diplomats and executives from multinational companies, including AMI CEO Eric Chinje, on their opinions, ideas and predictions.  To read insights from Eric and others interviewed, you can view the full article on the China Daily : Experts assess the way ahead for China

Press Release: World Interfaith Harmony Week Commemorated

Meredith Beal, african Media Initiative

Nairobi, Kenya – Religious leaders, media and members of the public including dozens of youth gathered at the Desmond Tutu Centre to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week under the theme “Interfaith Cooperation for Peaceful Existence and the Sustainable Development Goals of Africa.”


The event was sponsored by United Religions Initiative – Africa, African Council of Religious Leaders, African Media Initiative, Inter-Religious Council of Kenya and All Africa Conference of Churches. World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan.


Ambassador Mussie Hailu, Regional Director of URI – Africa, welcomed the delegates in his opening remarks. “One guiding principle for peaceful coexistence and compassion is the golden rule,” says Ambassador Hailu. “As we gather in our different faiths, we pray for peace, particularly in areas with political unrest like Central African Republic, Somali and Burundi. 16 countries are holding elections this year and we pray for peaceful elections everywhere.”


Meredith Beal of the African Media Initiative (AMI) spoke about AMI’s campaign to fight hate speech in the media and shared points from the public debate on hate speech held at AMI’s recent African Media Leaders Forum in Johannesburg, SA. Beal also shared Ethical Journalism News’ Five-Point Hate Speech Test for Journalists as well as a Checklist for Tolerance.


“Media has a powerful voice and the ability to shape public opinion and behavior,” says Beal. “It is important that media practitioners are careful not to inflame passions or incite violence and are mindful of the impact of what they publish or broadcast.”


In his keynote address, Dr. Mohamed Omar, Peace and Security Representative for the Horn of Africa, underscored the importance of individual action and the critical role of religious institutions can play in creating and maintaining the peace.   “Religion should not be used as a basis for violence,” says Dr. Omar.


The African Union’s Youth President Stephen Machua implored young people to take responsibility for creating a more peaceful society. “The inequalities that exist can be solved through our small acts of kindness,” he explains. Machua noted that because 70% of Africa’s population is comprised of youth, it is more critical than ever to instill in them a passion for peace.


All of the delegates endorsed a Personal Pledge for Peace and Non-Violence


Reporting on Elections in Africa: An Online Workshop for Journalists

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There are numerous elections set to take place in Africa in 2016. The media will play a critical role in this democratic process before, during and after the polls close.  Election reporting in Africa is challenging. Journalists face a host of obstacles, ranging from restrictions on press freedom to difficulties reporting from locations where there is limited polling or voting outcome data.


The virtual workshop will introduce journalists in the region to best practices in election reporting as well as the opportunity to interact with international journalists experienced in election coverage in Africa and beyond.


Workshop speakers will introduce and reinforce professional standards in the many aspects of reporting on elections and address the importance an impartial media and its relationship with both the government and the general public during the electoral process.  The workshop will address:


  • Election processes
  • Covering campaigns (i.e., analyzing content of candidates’ electoral programs/speeches, polling information, candidates’ debate coverage)
  • Journalists’ rights to information during an election
  • The difference between journalists and election observers
  • How to prepare a coverage plan
  • Personal safety during election coverage
  • Post-election reporting


The speakers are experienced journalists who are familiar with the challenges of reporting on elections on the continent (bios below).




English workshop:  Tuesday, February 16 from 13:30- 15:00 GMT

Introduction: Eric Chinje, CEO, African Media Initiative
Moderator: Jerelyn Eddings, Senior Program Director ICFJ, Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Speaker: Judy Yablonky, Media Consultant and Journalism Trainer


French workshop: Wednesday, February 17 from 15:00- 16:30 GMT
Introduction: Eric Chinje, CEO, African Media Initiative

Moderator: Eduardo Cue, International Journalist and Media Consultant

Speaker: Daniel Glick, co-founder of The Story Group, an independent, multimedia journalism company.



Reporters, editors, producers, bloggers and anyone reporting or writing about elections in their country.



RSVP to and indicate the requested date/language.  We will then send you the online link for the workshop.  Please submit RSVPs at least 24 hours prior to the start of program.



Moderators & Speakers bios



Jerri Eddings is a senior program director with the International Center for Journalists, whose Knight International Journalism Fellowships are empowering journalists in sub-Saharan Africa to use the latest digital tools to tell compelling stories on health and development issues.   Ms. Eddings has extensive experience in the United States and Africa as a reporter, editor, television producer and director of media capacity building programs.  She served as managing editor of Africa programming for Howard University Television (WHUT), a PBS station in Washington, DC (2002-04).   She also served as director of the Freedom Forum’s Africa media center in Johannesburg, South Africa (1997-2002).   In addition, she served as the Atlanta bureau chief for U.S. News & World Report (1994-97).  Prior to that, she worked as a foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and then U.S. News, covering the final years of apartheid and South Africa’s first democratic elections.


Judy Yablonky is an international journalist and media consultant with more than 35 years’ experience in international media. She started her international career in 1977 as a foreign correspondent covering southern Africa for the Associated Press from Johannesburg.  Since 1991, she has specialized in seminars and media training programs for over 2,000 professional journalists and politicians in 30-plus countries in Africa, as well as in Eastern Europe and Nepal. She has worked with a dozen different international organizations as a trainer, including: The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Soros Foundation, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, the International Alliance for Justice, and le Centre pour les Journalistes et les Communicateurs (CAPJC).   She also has taught courses at universities in Moldova and South Africa.  She is fluent in French and lives near Paris.




Eduardo Cue is a high-level communications officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, serving in New York and Africa (Mali and South Sudan) and has worked as an international journalist at leading broadcast and print news organizations for over 20 years (CNN, AP, UPI, US World News and Report, France24, Televisa and The Times). Cue has over 20 years’ experience as a media trainer, leading journalism seminars in more than 30 African countries for university students and professional journalists. These included teaching basic journalistic practice, journalism ethics, the role of the media in emerging democracies, and the relationship between the media and the military, as well as speaking frequently before civil society groups and local politicians on the continent.


Daniel Glick is the co-founder of The Story Group, an independent, multimedia journalism company formed in 2009, and based in Colorado. He is a journalist with 25 years of magazine writing experience, including 13 years with Newsweek and as a freelance contributor. He has written for National Geographic, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, theWashington Post Magazine and more. He has developed and conducted numerous journalism training programs, including during the time he was a Knight International Press Fellow in Algiers (2006), and a 2011 program in Gabon.

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


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


Her Excellency Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

G.C.S.K., C.S.K., Ph.D., D.Sc.

President, Republic of Mauritius

At the Opening of Seventh African Media Leaders Forum;

Birchwood Conference Centre


South Africa


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.