Monday, July 05, 2010

Kufuor leads speakers @ 10’Highway Africa

FORMER president of Ghana, Mr. John Kufuor is leading speakers at this year’s three-day Highway Africa annual conference in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Highway Africa is the largest congregation of media practitioners, mostly practicing journalists from Africa who write and report on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Affirming this in his welcome address to the 14th edition of the event he described as the gathering of the ‘family of media professionals,’ the Executive Director, Highway Africa, Mr. Chris Kabwato said that this year they would dwell on “African Voices in the Global Media Space.”

He noted that it was not a coincidence that, in the year that Africa hosts the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the first time ever, “we should seek to focus on Africa’s place in the global political and development agenda.”

Highway Africa is a partnership involving Rhodes University (School of Journalism and Media Studies), the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Department of Communications (South Africa), with the support of several partners, development agencies and sponsors.

Pointing out that for fourteen years, the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism, media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The conference also has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. In the last seven years Highway Africa has evolved into a multi-pronged programme with the following components, namely research, education and training as well as reporting development and conference.

He also said that the presenters and trainers at this annual conference come from all over the continent and beyond, stressing that 2010 edition includes a unique mix of plenary and keynote presentations, panel discussions and hands on workshops where delegates acquire practical skills and expertise.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online by the duo of Messers Moagisi Letlhaku and Nqobile Buthelezi from the local organizing team, quoted Kabwato as disclosing that other key speakers would include Advocate Pansy Tlakula; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Professor Alfred Opubor; Dr. Diana Senghor; Mathatha Tsedu; Nozipho January-Bardill; Amadou Ba; Professor Mindy McAdams; Cheriff Sy; Robert Kabushenga and Professor Adam Clayton Powell to name a few.

Welcoming participants to this year’s Highway Africa, Kufuor said it is a unique event that offers journalists
and the media a platform to reflect on how ICT is impacting on their work and the future of the media, and more importantly an opportunity for journalists and other media professionals to examine critically how they report Africa.

“Its people, its governments and its institutions in both conventional and new media. Your role as journalists is a critical one – you carry the burden of truly informing and educating our people for the advancement of our continent. Your task is to ensure the sustenance of good governance, peace and stability in Africa. It is a role you should guard jealously,” he declared.

The former Ghana leader said that Africa is undergoing a fundamental transformation with more elections and democratic governments coming into office, even as the economic growth rates are steadily improving in spite of the many challenges of the global financial crisis.

“Positive stories of democratisation and modest economic growth in some countries on the continent must spread and lead to a prosperous Africa; a well educated population, an industrialised continent ready
to take full advantage of advances in technology and science,” he said, stressing that the stories of Africa’s success should find as much space in the continental media organisation as the stories of her difficulties.

Some of the key sessions would comprise of “African Media and the Global Media Development Agenda: How is African media framing Africa’s role on the global stage in relation to the emerging economic order, China, Climate Change, 2010 FIFA World Cup” to name a few.

Additionally, participants would be examining “Mobile is the Future, The Future is Here” as well as “ICT Trends and Innovations in Africa – what is and what is not happening on the continent; New Forms of Journalism – ICT and its impact on story-telling; and Emerging Media Business Models.”

While some networking events would include the Telkom-Highway Africa New Media Awards & Gala Dinner, which took place yesterday, Sunday, July 4, the Absa Africa night dinner slated for today; MTN Africa united night and soccer viewing at MTN fan zone billed to hold tomorrow, in addition to the SA Tourism “Taste South Africa Night” come Wednesday July 7.

The organizers further hinted that there would be training centred on business models for community media and small media; SABC Digital Skills Training Workshop: New Media Skills in Search and Mapping; Highway Africa Workshops: Using Twitter in Journalism & Business; Teaching Online Journalism; Using Google Tools in the Newsroom: Using ICT in Disasters; ICTs for Climate Change and Upstart-MDDA Media Literacy Exchange Programme with book launch at various stages.

The conference is playing host to an estimated 500 delegates from over 40 countries on the continent.
ITRealms Online recalls that Highway Africa conference, which is on its 14th year, is co-hosted by Rhodes University, SABC and the Department of Communications, whereas the key sponsors for the event are Telkom, MTN and Absa.


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