Newsdesk - a new initiative to spread Africa’s message to the international market
vendredi 13 octobre 2006
par adi
Prof. Firmino Mucavele, NEPAD Chief Executive, spoke in New York recently at the launch of Newsdesk : Business Africa.

This new initiative will help Africa raise its voice on the international stage and, by telling Africa’s stories, assist in marketing the continent. Newsdesk : Business Africa has been developed by africapractice with the help of Diego and other partners.

In his speech, Professor Mucavele said :

NEPAD provides a strategic framework for African renewal, in order to drive socio-economic development and enable our continent and our people to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. It rests on African determination to provide a way for Africans to help themselves.

But we do not exist in a vacuum - rather we all live and work in a globalised world, so a key tenet of NEPAD is to halt the marginalisation of Africa in the globalisation process and enhance its full and beneficial integration into the global economy.

NEPAD calls on Africans to tell their own stories, to market Africa, to give Africa a voice on the international stage. Newsdesk : Business Africa, will help give Africa this voice.

As a consumer marketing campaign once declared : “Image is everything.” That is, the image of a product or place can seriously affect how it is received - regardless of the truth or otherwise of that image, and without much deep consideration.

The image of Africa in the international press is often not a positive one, and this has often acted as an obstacle to business or investment in the continent. So NEPAD’s objective centres specifically on addressing the continent’s marginalisation in the international business media, which acts as a barrier to its integration into the world economy.

Removing the barriers to business

As Reuters chairman Niall FitzGerald pointed out in a lecture at Oxford University last year, it is not always so much a case of negative reporting as failing to seek out what is new on the continent and contextualise events in a way that makes sense of new trends.

What is much needed are skills, as well as private capital and removal of the barriers to business. These skills are needed across society, clearly, but most poignantly and relevant, they are needed to address the lack of capacity in reporting on business in Africa - both in the African media and the international press who report on Africa.

Lack of communications ability, lack of information, lack of awareness - all these constrain the impact of the good efforts being exerted to stimulate Africa’s development. Newsdesk : Business Africa will help to address this capacity gap.

More than 40% of Africa’s population is 15 years and younger. Not only is this the generation of future leaders and shapers of Africa who must be equipped with the information and tools they need to succeed, but it is the continent’s youth that are most likely to be affected by the digital divide.

This highlights the need for a cross-continent programme for the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills and knowledge.

The ambitious e-Schools programme

To address this digital divide, NEPAD has established the e-Africa Commission. Under the auspices of this commission, NEPAD has launched an eSchools program which envisions that within 10 -15 years, every African school leaver will have the technological skills required to function in the Information Society.

Widely considered to be the most ambitious programme of its kind in the world, the NEPAD eSchools programme will deliver tangible results to 600 000 schools across the continent.

Such an ambitious project cannot be easily completed by the public sector or NEPAD alone, but requires a partnership approach. The private sector is therefore key in the implementation of the eSchools project.

Oracle is leading a consortium of private companies, who have committed to sponsoring the demonstration phase of the project, consisting of six schools in each of the 16 participating countries, for a period of 12 months. The same consortium is supporting Newsdesk : Business Africa by distributing it in schools and by providing an appropriate prize in the form of further journalism training, which will deepen the capacity of African journalists to report effectively.

Creative way to help student journalists

It is hard to describe, and easier to demonstrate the specifics of Newsdesk. It provides a creative way of enabling students to play the part of TV journalist, carry out research, and create an engaging news item on business in Africa. It is also to be included in a competition for budding journalists who will submit the news reports they compile with Newsdesk for judging in an international contest.

As such it is a means to leverage technology to support education, to boost journalism capacity on the continent and improve understanding of African business outside the continent. I am delighted to support this initiative and to be at its launch.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about Africa, we simply need to improve on the communication of this confidence in the continent’s future to the outside world.

By improving education at all levels, and heightening people’s awareness of key issues both within and outside Africa, specifically through enhanced media training, NEPAD is working on many fronts to build African capacity.

With projects such as Newsdesk and eSchools, we are leveraging technology to support education in Africa and to bridge the digital divide, to meet the Millennium Development Goals, to meet our own objective to halt Africa’s marginalisation, and to build a better future for Africa.

Source : nepad news - october 13, 2006

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