By Mary Chumbow
Media leaders and news organizations in Africa have been urged to focus on giving greater emphasis to development issues. Speaking at the 7th annual African Media Leaders Forum held last week in Johannesburg, Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim noted that negative publicity had taken the place of much needed coverage of development issues on the continent. She urged the gathering, which brought over 600 media leaders and owners from across the world, to actively tackle developmental issues, provide solutions and nurture citizen engagement at the same time.
As she formally opened the forum at the Birchwood hotel in Johannesburg, President Gurib-Fakim was adamant that the media should “become activists, not pacifists in the search for Africa-centric development solutions that are economically viable, socially relevant and environmentally benign.”
The African Media Leaders Forum is the annual flagship event of the African Media Initiative, which seeks to bring together Media Leaders, Media Personalities and those interested in the media, to discuss pertinent issues related to the media and the development of the media in Africa. This year’s forum featured extensive talks on the development of the media by Bineta Diop, African Union Envoy on Women, Peace and Security; Dr Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; and Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director, African Regional Office, Rockefeller Foundation.
The 3-day forum took place from 11th to 13th November 2015 under the theme Shaping Development Conversations in Africa: The Role of Media in the Digital Environment, and focused mainly on media development, content generation, ethics and professionalism. As part of the forum, a gala dinner for the Zimeo “Excellence in Media” awards took place on Thursday 12th November, at a gala celebration to recognize those who had proven themselves beyond doubt in excellence reporting. The awards covered up to 18 categories which included Business and Finance reporting, Education reporting and Maritime reporting. African Media Initiative (AMI) CEO, Eric Chinje, congratulated the winners and thanked the Zimeo sponsors for their continued investment in journalism in Africa. The awards had received well over 500 entries from all over Africa. Speaking at the awards dinner which also served as the launch of the Zimeo awards, Mr. Chinje also expressed AMI’s hope to grow the competition in the coming years.
The African Media Leaders Forum is now in its seventh year. Every year, the forum is held in a different city on the African continent. The host country for the next edition of the AMLF was revealed at the end of the forum, and delegates can expect an even bigger event in 2016, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.