African Media Initiative to coordinate the creation of the Pan-African Media Portal

AllAfrica.com. The Commission of the African Union (AUC) and the European Union (EU) convened a joint meeting of experts in Addis Ababa, March 23-25, on the theme “Media and Development”. The meeting brought together over fifty high profile participants representing journalists, media owners, media development practitioners, and journalism schools involved in the development of the sector in Africa and Europe.

The gathering agreed a range of concrete  proposals in support of African media, including the creation of a pan-African web portal which will collect and disseminate news and information about the African media sector, identify ongoing media developments projects as well as a repertoire of media houses and media practitioners from around the continent. The African Media Initiative (AMI) will coordinate this activity and serve as the secretariat of the project. A Task Force, composed of delegates, has been established to guide the creation and development of the portal.

“It is crucial that the portal site works with existing web-sites in Africa and aims to strengthen their work rather than duplicate it. There is a lack of information on African media, for instance, who is doing what and where, data on the national advertising markets, conditions of journalists, training opportunities and the portal site can fill these information gaps”, said AMI CEO Amadou Mahtar Ba.

The meeting also agreed to launch the pan-African media network, a structure that aims to bring together the different players in African media. The African Forum for Media Development (AFMD) will facilitate operation of the network, which will be organised along sub-sectors of media development.

The meeting called on the AUC and EC to provide the necessary funds and support in order to make sure the projects are implemented without delay.

AUC Chairman H E Jean Ping assured the meeting that the AUC supports the new initiatives within the AU-EU Partnership Strategy, notably in the area of good governance, democracy and human rights. “Africa needs quality, independence and protection of media,” he said “…and we need editors and journalists to follow their ethical principles.”

Participants to the meeting reiterated their call to the AUC and EC to recognise media as a sector of development in its own right. “Without structures within the AUC and EC that deal directly with media development and provide targeted support, it will not be possible to develop an effective media support strategy”, said Global Forum Media Development director Bettina Peters.

Finally, the meeting endorsed a proposal for the AUC and EC to work with UNESCO to organise the next World Press Freedom Day in Africa. May 3, 2011 will mark the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO Windhoek Declaration.

The Addis Ababa meeting was established as the consultative group on media development to the AUC and EC. It was proposed that the group should meet at least once a year. The meeting was a follow up to the September 2008 media summit held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, under the auspices of the AUC and the EU.

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