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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Experts task NEPAD on new media

MEDIA practitioners on the continent have tasked NEPAD Agency to adapt creative strategies for using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and social media to improve its outreach to the public.

Rising from the second Africa Regional Media Dialogue meeting which held in Maseru, Lesotho, at the weekend, participants in a communiqué made available to ITRealms Online also called on NEPAD Agency to use technologies to engage the youth to boost the African development agenda.

The meeting which was centred on ‘the role of the media in Africa’s development’ the participants noted, they were conscious of the need to accelerate the implementation of the recommendations agreed at the first Africa Regional Media Dialogue in The Vaal, South Africa in February 2009.

They pointed out that 14th Ordinary Session of the AU Summit decision to integrate the NEPAD into the structures and processes of the AU and establishment of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency is a welcome development.

They recognised that NEPAD is now fully integrated into AU processes and the role of African media have continued to play in keeping NEPAD in the public sphere cannot be over-emphasised.

Also, they reiterated desire to have the media play a more prominent role in the integration and development of Africa, just as they urged for the development of a continent-wide framework for structured engagement with the media and the deepening of their involvement in informing about AU and NEPAD related programmes.

Improve messaging and packaging as well as provision of more regular information to the media on successes and challenges in implementing AU/NEPAD programmes, they said, would deepen knowledge about AU/NEPAD activities among African media practitioners to facilitate media coverage of African initiatives and programmes.

NEPAD, the participants said, should ensure that civil society organizations, women and youth own the NEPAD vision and programme.

“Adapt creative strategies for using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and social media to improve the outreach to the public and also engage the youth about the African development agenda,” part of the declaration made available read.

While calling for reinforced training for community media and media professionals in general as well as at the level of journalism training institutions, participants noted that developing capacity to monitor and evaluate media coverage of AU/NEPAD initiatives and programmes would not be out of place.

“We urge the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to consider adopting media freedom and pluralism as one of its evaluation criteria,” they said, stressing that participants agreed these goals set out in its declaration and urged for the adopted recommendations to be implemented within the next two years with a midterm review.

Meanwhile the first-ever Innovation Outlook was recently launched in Addis Ababa, which reportedly captured major issues affecting Science Technology and Innovation on the continent, even as a call has gone to the leaders to invest more in the sector as a way of fast tracking the socio-economic development in Africa.

Speaking at the public presentation of the 136-page document at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (UNECA), the Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki underscored the importance of planning and availability of relevant data that could ease the implementation of AU-NEPAD programmes.

“As NEPAD is the technical execution organ of the AU; we have specific focus on implementation of policies and knowledge management. We at the African Union Commission consider Information Technology as flagship program, it has to be own, it need to have regional dimension”, he said.

Mayaki disclosed that 13 African countries participated in the Research and Development (R&D) survey and 10 countries conducted the Innovation survey, which form part of the Outlook.

He explained that basically, it provided information and inform on the state of science, technology and innovation, adding that the survey was conducted in 19 countries.

The second phase of the African Science Technology Innovation Initiative (ASTII) was also launched at the ceremony with 10 countries have so far indicated their interest in participating in the next phase.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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