President Nana Akufo-Addo wants journalists in Africa to lead the campaign to change the narrative about the continent to reflect its pressing challenges and success stories.
Journalists on the continent, he said, “have a duty to help change the image about Africa, and establish a narrative, which is more positive. The externally generated story of Africa might be hard to take, but, so long as there is widespread poverty and inequality, that will be the image that is going to be portrayed. This means that you, our writers, our journalists from the continent, the writers of the African story, carry a great responsibility. When you write, what you write must be about the limitless possibilities on the continent. What is written about Africa by African writers must have the ultimate reference status.”
The President made the appeal on Monday, November 13 at the 2017 Africa Business Media Innovators (ABMI) summit which runs from November 12 to 14 at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra.
The summit is being held for the first time in Accra on the theme “The Changing Face of Media and New Hybrid Models”.
The President said today, a new Africa is emerging that is strengthening the determination of Africans to build a new African civilisation, governed by the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability.
“It is not enough to hold successful elections every four years or to be able to criticize the government and to have a choice of 100 radio stations. The biggest challenge that we continue to face is widespread poverty and, until we eradicate widespread poverty, Africa cannot really join the international comity of nations on an equal basis,” he said.
He adds: “The media has always been a critical feature of the political, financial and business architecture of Africa, and continues to be so. The time has come for us to harness the full potential of the media, keep it up to pace with technological changes, so it helps define, and, at the same time, contribute to the sustainable development of the African continent.
More than 100 senior executives, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders from media, tech, business and civil society are taking part in the Africa Business Media Innovators summit under the auspices of the Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the Ford Foundation.
It is being hosted by Matthew Winker, Co-Founder of Bloomberg News and Editor Emeritus, and Justin B. Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, and will examine the many new trends and approaches in the wider communications sector, from revenue models to content creation and distribution.
The forum is designed so that media companies can share their strategies for navigating these changes, and their efforts to impact inclusive and sustainable economic growth on the continent.
A press release issued on Monday by organisers of the event reveals that mobile communications have brought enormous improvements to living standards around the world, and nowhere is the use of that technology spreading more quickly than in Africa.
This promises great opportunities for the continent that partnerships between government, tech businesses, and media companies can help to seize, the statement said.
“By 2020, there will be an estimated 725 million mobile customers in Africa. That’s helping to connect people to one another, but also to critical information and services. For instance: Nearly 60 percent of the world’s mobile banking accounts are in sub-Saharan Africa; in 2015 the number of mobile banking accounts in the continent surpassed that of traditional bank accounts.
“In addition to providing people with access to new services, mobile technology is also creating an enormous amount of new data. Governments can use that data to identify needs, measure the impact of public initiatives, and better allocate resources. Businesses can use data to find ways to better serve customers or identify opportunities for new products. Journalists can use it to expand coverage, find new angles, and keep the public informed about issues that matter – which helps to drive growth and prosperity, by increasing transparency and accountability,” the statement adds.