Initiative launched to assist media across Africa
As the media landscape across Africa evolves, the Africa Media Initiative will play a large role in assisting that change. If Africa is to move from economic dependency to become a continent of developed and democratic nations, the emergence of independent and vibrant media is essential.
The African Media Initiative, of which the BBC World Service Trust is a member, has been working to produce a set of ideas and policies that will help bring about this important change.
The Initiative emphasises the need to professionalise both managerial and editorial skills, strengthen the financial and business footing of media houses and enhance the political and legal status of journalism. We believe these elements will build the media's capacity to promote good governance and economic growth, making a direct and beneficial impact on the lives of the continent's citizens.
AMI's ideas and proposals were discussed in early May at a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, in which AMI presented briefings on progress to date to a group of invited media practitioners and specialists from Africa and beyond (as pictured in image (l-r): Amadou Ba, Professor Fackson Banda and Eric Chinje).
They were asked to offer their own critique of the work to date, raising questions, challenging assumptions and forcing AMI colleagues to make sure their ideas were both feasible and practical in Africa's often unsympathetic journalistic environment.
AMI is the result of two major consultative processes involving key stakeholders in the African media sector - AMDI and STREAM (see below).
The meeting's venue and date coincided with UNESCO's annual conference to mark World Press Freedom Day, on May 2nd and 3rd. UNESCO's theme for 2008 is 'Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Empowerment of People'.
AMI is in part a response to the Report of the Commission for Africa which in 2005 highlighted the need for greater attention, resources and collaboration to strengthen Africa's media. The current process is the confluence of two large-scale consultative processes involving key representatives of the African media: the African Media Development Initiative (AMDI) and Strengthening African Media (STREAM).
STREAM, which was facilitated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), ran a workshop with selected media and communications experts in Addis Ababa, in March 2006. The objective of the workshop was to arrive at a shared understanding of the state of the media sector in Africa and discuss a collaborative way forward.
AMDI was a substantial piece of research carried out by the BBC World Service Trust in partnership with two African universities sounding opinions and taking evidence in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The combination of STREAM's workshop and AMDI's findings helped establish priorities that continue to shape the work of the African Media Initiative and will be the focus of our work in Maputo and beyond.
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