Monday, August 17, 2009

Ghana’s Vice President tasks African communicators on MDGs

The Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has tasked African communication educators to stress the value inherent in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the growth of the continent.

He also lamented the fact that Africa has continued to suffer for lack of information despite the progress made in the political development on the continent.

Mr. Mahama gave these charges in his address at the opening of a three-day meeting of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) 2009, last week, at the Centre for African Wetlands, University of Ghana, Legon, on the theme: “Communication Education and Practice in Africa – A Social Contract for the 21st Century?”

He also said that participants should spare a thought for Africa’s MDGs and the role that communication could and should play in helping the continent to realize them by 2015.

“For Africa, they (MDGs) constitute a major component of the social contract between governments and the people they serve,” he asserted.

According to him, the development challenges facing African governments are still
quite tremendous, although strides have been made in literacy but illiteracy rates are still very high in many parts of the continent.

Although the growth of media on the continent have improved, he said, there are nevertheless various access restriction that is dragging Africa backward.

“Even though we laud the proliferation of the media more than 60 per cent of Africans live in rural areas with restricted access to most forms of media mainly because of transportation and electricity challenges,” he said.

Mr. Mahama pointed out that continental expert groups like ACCE has a role to play in ameliorating these conditions, noting that in the past, Africa has provided advisory services and consultations to governments, institutions and organizations in the formulation of national communication policies and communication strategies.

“In the coming years as you regroup and revitalize your organization, I hope you will again provide these valuable services,” he charged.

The vice president emphasized that currently, Ghana has over 60 newspapers with over 150 Frequency Modulated (FM) radio stations and more than 10 local television channels.

“… Thanks to a new version of the social contract which emphasized liberalization of the airwaves, the right to information and to free speech,” he said and later declared the event open.

Speaking at the occasion, the Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana, Prof. Nii Boi Tagoe, described the conference and its theme as timely which suggest that communication, as a discipline and as a human activity as well as a tool is an inspirable component of all developmental discourse.

“Indeed, communication issues transcend time and space,” he said, stressing that at this digital age, characterized by incredible achievements in science and technology, which have improved the quality of various aspects of human life.

“The gains of advancement in information and communication technology (ICT) are immeasurable, and have made the world what is now known as a global place, a global market or more popularly a global village,” Prof. Tagoe enthused.

The aforementioned, he said, are some of the products and services, which could be put online for sale, but where identities of the world’s peoples are in perpetual contention.

Also speaking, chairman of the occasion and Executive Director, Ghana Chamber of Mines, Ms Joyce Aryee, described the theme as a very apt key to communications growth in Africa.

Africans, Aryee noted, are known for communication or interactive, hence she charged participants to harness this further to get the African citizens to feel empowered and hold government accountable through good governance.

She looks forward to a day when the clerics of all religion would sit at the feet of communication educators to learn how to interact effectively for the unity and peace on the continent.

Welcoming participants to the conference earlier, the Acting Director, School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Dr. Audrey Gadzekpo, said the meeting was a rebirth for Africa and African communications educators as a means of moving forward at this century.


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