Posted by: africanpressorganization | 21 October 2009

Ping: “A pan-African media observatory would be a useful tool at the media´s service, established with and for the media”

 

 


 

 

Ping: “A pan-African media observatory would be a useful tool at the media´s service, established with and for the media”

 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, October 21, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Union Commission thanks civil society for its participation in the on-line consultation on the project of putting in place a Pan-African Media Observatory. As a result of this consultation the project will be re-shaped.

 

The on-line consultation on an initial blueprint of a Pan-African Media Observatory finished on 15th August of this year. The African Union Commission will re-examine the project keeping the same objective: to promote free, independent and professional media in Africa. The current project has taken into account all comments received, both positive and negative. The continuation of the dialogue with civil society, particularly the professionals, will be of course essential on so sensitive a subject as “Media and Development “.

 

The President of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping has said: “The African Union Commission thanks all the people and organisations which took part in this discussion process to improve the situation of media in Africa. Africa needs dialogue and debate to move forward. Media and Development is a complex and sensitive issue, but the elements are there to improve the situation on the continent. Dialogue with civil society can only make our projects better, more adapted to reality and better accepted.

 

The African Union Commission wants to promote freedom of expression, to help in the development of free, independent and professional media throughout Africa, to increase the capacities of journalists and to combat stereotypes. It is the initial aim of this project and we will continue to believe in this aim. A Pan-African Media Observatory would be a tool at the service of media, established with and for the media. This project should be seen as one stage in the process, which is added to the already existing initiatives and texts, such as the Windhoek Declaration and its follow-ups, all with a view to improving the situation of media in Africa. Free and independent media contribute in an essential way towards successful democratic governance and to development. The African Union Commission is determined to work in this direction to contribute to disseminate these principles throughout the continent.

 

We are now finalising the analysis of all comments received, in order to improve this first idea of an Observatory. We will propose a substantially modified project, as a result of this consultation. Defending media in Africa remains for us a fundamental question and my door will remain open to discuss the subject: we must address all misunderstandings on our intentions and mobilise our creative potential with those who believe that the situation can be improved.”

 

Now that the consultation on the first draft is completed, the African Union Commission plans to continue the analysis of all comments received and to re-examine the project in order to make improvements; to continue the dialogue with civil society and continue the debate within the framework of the Africa-Europe strategy so that experts from both continents can continue to have fruitful exchanges on the subject for the benefit of each other.

 

Context:

 

The initial idea of a Pan-African Media Observatory: a tool at the service of media

 

The first consultation with African civil society, via Internet, on the subject of the media has been completed with a satisfactory level of participation. The initial idea was to create a tool which would observe the situation of media in Africa, would draw up reports on their situation and would propose its opinion in the event of conflict.

 

The idea of creating a Pan-African Media Observatory was to set up, at the Pan-African level, a completely independent structure of observation, information, mediation and advice in order to draw up an inventory of the situation at the level of the whole African continent and to improve it. To achieve this Pan-African dimension, the Observatory should be linked to the African Union Commission while its decision-making process and executive functioning –with a majority of representatives from civil society– would ensure its independence.

 

A consultation with a genuinely successful participation

 

Of the more than 300 participants in the on-line consultation, the first of its kind, organised by the Commission of the African Union, 80% were favourable to the creation of the Observatory and 15% opposed it. The quantity and the quality of the contributions expressed the dynamism of African civil society and the interest on the issue. However, the African Union Commission is aware of the criticisms emanating from sometimes well known and vocal organisations on this first draft. Fears in particular appeared about a possible diversion of the initiative’s original purpose, fear on the control of the media by certain states or on the weakening of press freedom. Of course, it is positive and normal that negative comments emerge on a subject as sensitive as media; criticisms are useful to move forward. It is the aim of a consultation to ask stakeholders their opinion in order to see what they think of a project, with a view to improving it. One can only become richer by debating, which is necessary to move forward in a constructive way; joint work with the stakeholders will therefore remain essential in the months to come.

 

To read the on-line contributions (those of which the authors accepted to make public):

http://www.media-dev.eu/website.php?rub=voirlescontributions&lang=fr

 

 

The idea of a Pan-African Media Observatory was born at the Ouagadougou Forum

 
 

At the “Media and Development” Forum, which was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 11th to 13th September 2008, the idea of a Pan-African Media Observatory was one of the final proposals to emerge. The Forum was co-organised with the European Commission within the framework of their joint strategic partnership EU-UA, adopted at the time of the Europe-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December 2007, in partnership with the OIF, the Commonwealth and the CPLP. More than 180 participants (Panos Institute, the International Federation of journalists, the World Bank, BBC World Service Trust, Reuters Foundation, the African Institute of Governance, the Institute of Press and Information Sciences of Tunisia, the  School of Sciences and Data-Processing Techniques and  Communication of Cameroon; the Association of  Burkina Faso Journalists, West African Newsmedia & Development Centre, UN Development Programme, UNESCO, TV5Monde, Spectrum TV, the Ministries of Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Niger; etc.) debated for three days in order to identify which legal projections, regulations, financing, training and actions are necessary to move forward on the issue.

 

The first draft of the project of the Pan-African Media Observatory was addressed, in October 2008, to the Member States of the African Union and was presented, a month later in November 2008, at the European Development Days. It also involved all interested stakeholders, via on-line consultation, which lasted until 15 August 2009.

 

More information:

http://www.media-dev.org/

 

SOURCE 

African Union Commission (AUC)


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