22th November 2014 / By Ghana High Commission, Windhoek, Namibia
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor was last week in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital participating in activities marking the 20th anniversary of the Governing Council of Interpeace, based in Geneva, Switzerland, of which he has been chairman for the past five years. The Ghanaian former President took over from former Finnish President, Marti Artissari. The High Commissioner of Ghana to Kenya, Alhaji Karimu hosted the former President and executive members of the Council to a reception attended by a cross-section of Ghanaians, including Ghana’s envoy to Namibia H. E. Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah, who was in Nairobi attending media-related events.
H. E. Alhaji Harruna Attah was invited by the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) and Africa Media Initiative (AMI) to a conference on the Post 2015 Agenda of the UN MDGs and a Consultative Forum on Media Strategies respectively. Also present was Mr. Sulemana Braimah, the Ghanaian Executive Secretary of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
The GFMD assembled media practitioners, owners and other stakeholders to deliberate on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDG); coming to an end in 2015, the eight MDGs would be superseded by 16 new Goals, this time including Freedom of Expression and Media.
A Draft Statement by the UN Rapporteur on the SDGs was discussed, out of which a Nairobi Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information was adopted with a call on governments the world over to ensure the inclusion of these values in the SDGs to be adopted at the next UN General Assembly.
According to the Declaration, “The Post-2015 Development Agenda will have little chance of success if people do not have unfettered access to relevant and reliable information from a variety of sources to empower themselves, take advantage of opportunities, and make life-changing decisions about their circumstances” but also recommends that “Media regulatory bodies, media professional associations and unions, as well as the media community in general, must take urgent steps to ensure that the media in different countries are ethical, professional and enjoy public trust and confidence in order to enhance their effectiveness in facilitating human development”.
Alhaji Harruna Attah advised participants not to downplay the importance of media pluralism even as development journalism was beginning to take centre stage in the discourse on African media. He also asked Media Practitioners to seek influence and not power. Mr. Braimah shared MFWA’s experience of the Ghanaian media on Ebola reporting. He called for clarity in setting out facts and figures to help journalists put out the appropriate information to the public.
AMI’s CEO, Eric Chinje, said the forum comes at a critical moment when the media in parts of Africa is being within the firing line of those in power, pointing out that they were facing fierce competition from other information sources and fighting to remain relevant to their audience.
“Decades of support for media from public and international institutions have not produced the desired outcomes,” said Chinje. He spoke of the imperative to work on finding synergies and partnerships that can assess and monitor investment in media in Africa.
Joseph Warungu, AMI’s Content Strategy Director, conducted a baseline content analysis of the presence and importance given to development news. It indicated that only 11 % of the stories covered focused on development issues with politics dominating much of the space. For the African media to meet the challenges of development there was therefore the need to shift focus.