" ITREALMS: HANA @ Tunis for WSIS-05

Thursday, November 10, 2005

HANA @ Tunis for WSIS-05

Highway Africa News Agency (HANA) has concluded plans to send a strong made up of multi-lingual and renowned team of journalists to cover the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) holding in Tunis, from next week.

Director, HANA, Mr. Chris Kabwato disclosed this and said that the second phase of WSIS commencing November 15 through 18, would witness a HANA team, comprising journalists and students from various African countries, who would supply multi-media coverage of the summit through its web site http://www.highwayafrica.ru.ac.za/hana/, blog http://www.newsagency.blogspot.com/ and via e-mails (listservs) to any African news organisation that wishes to make use of this service.

He also said that while in Tunis, the team would produce a daily newspaper, sponsored by the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa, thus providing delegates with an African perspective of the Summit.

“The English and French pages of the newspaper will be made available online,” he asserted.

Champion Infotel recalls that HANA was conceptualised in September of 2003 ahead of the first phase of the WSIS meeting in Geneva.

According to Mr. Kabwato, also director of the annual Highway Africa conference co-hosted by the Rhodes University School of Journalism and the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and a number of other visionaries participating in the conference, was the realisation that the debates and resolutions at the summit should not only be conveyed to African audiences through the eyes and ears of Western news agencies.

“Unless something is done about it, Africans would have to follow the moves to transfer control of the internet from a single nation to a UN agency through first world eyes. As very few African news organisations could afford to send reporters to Geneva, their readers and viewers would only learn about efforts to bridge the digital divide from foreign news agencies,” he explained.

With this need identified, he pointed out that Rhodes School of Journalism kick-started HANA initiative and the SABC seconded Executive Producer Steven Lang to work as editor of the news agency.

He further said that the mandate formulated by the 2003 Highway Africa conference, to report on and explain the relevance of the WSIS for African readers, was successfully carried out in Geneva and in other ICT related conferences in the run up to the second phase of the summit in Tunis.

HANA has in the meantime broadened its scope and plans to develop it into an agency delivering continuous coverage of the information society and ICTs in Africa.

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