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Sunday, July 04, 2021

AfCFTA: African media leaders discuss role, drum support - ITREALMS

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The media and civil society leaders from some 20 African countries have met to discuss the role media must play to ensure the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), reports 
ITREALMS.
This is coming as the meeting under the auspices of the Yaounde-based global communications agency, Kory Africa, SA last weekend, urges media support for AfCFTA.
ITREALMS gathered that participants at the virtual meeting included the heads of African media organizations, professors of journalism and some regional civil society representatives agreed to work together to support the implementation of the AfCFTA through an informed public discourse across the continent.

Welcoming participants, the Chief Executive Officer, Kory Africa, Mr. Eric Chinje, expressed the hope that media will rise to the challenge posed by the imperative to build Africa’s one-billion strong common market and ensure that this initiative does not end up on the shelves of bureaucrats in African capitals or once again be captured by foreign interests.

“Africans must own this process,” he said, “and only media on the continent, playing its role of informing and educating citizens, will ensure that we achieve that.”

He recalled the 1963 opening speech by Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah to the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity in which he said: “It is only by uniting our productive capacity and the resultant production that we can amass capital. Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of the western economy.” The AfCFTA is a good start, Chinje noted, but the excellent framework will not transform the fortunes of Africa if African citizens are not the drivers of the process.

The media leaders agreed on the need to build capacity within the continental media fraternity to accompany the implementation process by bringing in all productive actors on the continent – entrepreneurs, innovators, farmers, transporters (by land, air, river and sea) – and ensuring that cross border knowledge and activities become the norm in Africa.

Commenting on the initiative, Pr. Raju Chandra Sekar, Director of World Development Foundation and Adviser to the United Nations pointed out that “this is a huge opportunity to challenge western perception of African development by shaping a narrative that is not Africa biased. The common market is one of the greatest initiatives whose potential undoubtedly could led us to bring a balance of power in trade negotiations in the international arena.”

Discussions focused on a webinar series for journalists that will be launched in the coming weeks by Kory Agency and partner communications training institutions. On offer will be a full range of courses that will include : “the African Common Market – Protocols, Policies and Procedures; Market Demand and Supply – What Africa Produces and Consumes; Value Addition – Transforming what we have and Packaging for the Market; Private Sector Actors – Who, Where and in What Areas Are They; Technology – What We Have and What we Need; Marketing the Made in Africa Brand, etc.”

Participants agreed to expand the media network in the coming weeks to include journalists in countries not yet represented and to meet again in about a month to move on the decisions arrived at. The representatives of African academic institutions and the maritime sector would review the webinar program for needed inputs. Experts in other critical sectors of the African economy will be contacted and invited to engage with the journalists.

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