AU Chairperson focuses on critical role of African media

Ousman Sillah reporting from Kigali

Dr. Nkosana Zana Dlamini Zuma, the Chairperxon of the African Union Commission (AUC), in her address to African editors, said Publication1they are pleased to engage them in their efforts towards the realisation of an independent, peaceful and prosperous continent.

Editors from across Africa, under the auspices of The African Editors Forum (TAEF), have converged in Kigali, Rwanda, for a side meeting with the African Union Commission (AUC) alongside the ongoing 27th AU Summit from the 10th to 18th July 2016.

The side event organised by the AUC in collaboration with TAEF and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is on Popularising Agenda 2063, which is a framework developed by the continental body for Africa’s social, political and economic transformation.

The main objectives of the two-day forum scheduled for the 13 and 14 July 2016 are to provide a platform for the easy articulation and better understanding of Agenda 2063 amongst the most senior newsmakers on the continent and to discuss the role of African media in its popularisation with accurate reporting to help shape the African narrative as well as advocate for its ownership by Africans .

Dr. Zuma said Agenda 2063 envisions seven aspirations of Africa, including an Africa characterised by Good Governance, Democracy, Rule of Law and Respect for Human Rights, and whose development is people driven and which utilises the full potential of women and the youth.

In order for African citizens to actively participate in the implementation of Agenda 2063 and drive the development process, said the AU Chair, they need to be continuously and sufficiently informed on the progress being made towards its realisation which is aimed at the sustainable development of the continent. She stressed that this is key to enable the citizenry to hold their governments accountable to their commitments.

The conference will also build on the annual theme, the “Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on Women’s Rights”, and to explore and establish a link between the right to freedom of expression as well as access to information for socio-ecomic, cultural and political development of the continent.

Dr. Zuma paid tribute to the earlier generation of African journalists who have been on the forefront in the struggle against colonialism, exploitation and advocating for liberation and the promotion of Pan Africanism.

She also called for credible, responsible and responsive journalism in promoting the cause of the African people in their quest for liberty, development and prosperity.

She deplored the negative role played by irresponsible journalism in the Rwandan genocide.

In declaring the conference officially opened, Prof. Shaka Anastas, Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Governance Board, deputising the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, welcomed the editors and congratulated TAEF for having the only side event meeting approved by the AUC which, he added, is an indication of the importance attached to the role of the media in the development of Africa.

He said Rwanda is one of the 11 African countries that have enacted the Freedom of Information Act. He also underscored the important role that media can play in ensuring the popularisation and monitoring of the implementation of Ageda 2063. He exhorts TAEF to take the lead in encouraging Africans to be telling the African story.

Earlier, Madam Emrakdb Assefa, Secretry General of TAEF, and Mr. Collin Haba, President of the Association of Rwandan Journalists, made brief remarks.

The event was preceded by a meeting of TAEF members on Wednesday, 13 July 2016.