African Journalists To Network To Promote ARPM/NEPAD
Journalists from Anglophone West Africa are attending a three-day workshop in Accra to find solutions to why most African initiatives seem to have inadequate and or inaccurate media reportage.
Opening the workshop yesterday, the journalists raised questions that bordered on the negative reportage about the continent and why there seemed to be little interest by journalists, especially in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) initiatives.
The workshop, which is being organised by Ghana APRM Governing Council in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Reuters Foundation and the NEPAD body in Kenya, is under theme: "Reporting African in the Global Context."
Giving an insight into Ghana's successful peer review story, Professor S.K. Adjepong, Chairman of the National APRM Governing Council, said the Council had established District Oversight Committees to evaluate their mandate effectively and efficiently.
The essence, he said, was to make APRM issues get to the grass root level and make them more reader friendly as well as enable the Council to track the progress of implementation by all stakeholders.
"Currently the Council has translated the country APRM reports into local dialects for our people," Prof Adjepong said. He said within the next few weeks, the country would present its fourth Peer Review Report.
The first, second and third reports were presented at the AU Summit in Banjul in July 2006, the APR Panel in January 2007, and at AU Summit in Accra in July 2007 respectively.
Prof Adjepong underscored the crucial role the media could play in the process and said: "Without the media it will be difficult to achieve our objective of domesticating the APRM. "The need for continuous upgrading of knowledge, skills and capacity of professionals to drive the new African vision is entrenched in the process of NEPAD/APRM."
Mr Jerry Okungu, a Kenyan journalist, said most African initiatives largely did not achieve their objectives because they lacked the synergy and drive from the various governments.
"There is lack of information and support for the various initiatives," he said, and asked the "new African journalists" to build a strong media network to project the positive achievements the continent was currently chalking in the area of good governance and democracy.
Mr Okungu said African journalists and media institutions must start having a broad common view about the continent and what it stands for to contribute meaningfully to its development.
Mr Nicholas Kotch of the Reuters Foundation urged African media organisations to upgrade their profile in order to enable them to make and write critical reports on APRM, NEPAD and other national issues.
Mr Bright Blewu, General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association, said effective networking would inject a good sense of responsibility on the part of African journalists to promote and sustain the various initiatives.
Mrs Dorothy Gordon, Director of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre, said in today's information and technology age, good networking must not overlook the use of ICT tools.