Africa is now the world’s second fastest growing continent. Recently, it has defied the pessimists, accelerating its economic pulse and seeing significant improvements in its Human Development Indicators. But these positive developments have been tempered by a crisis in jobs, youth unemployment and growing inequality. These are now the key challenges the continent faces.
The answer to these challenges, according to the African Development Bank’s 2013-2022 Strategy, lies in sustained economic growth that leads to structural change and the transformation of the continent.
Innovation and the adoption of new knowledge and ways of doing things will also be critical ingredients for success. To attain these goals, Africa will have to close its infrastructure gap, speed up economic integration, deal with conflicts old and new, and develop its human capital.
There is little doubt that the media will be a critical partner on this path to progress. It will act as a watchdog when economic policies, strategies, and implementation go astray. Yet it will also help set the agenda for growth and transformation by pointing to lessons from those that have done well, both on the continent and abroad, bringing critical lessons home, and acting as a critical agent of positive change.
It is in this regard that the AfDB wishes to launch the Media Partnership for Africa’s Structural Transformation.
The Partnership will function as a network of African and global media professionals committed to the development of the African continent and its structural transformation through, mainly, Solutions Journalism.
A practice that is now gaining increasing credence even in the mainstream media, Solutions Journalism is basically reporting that delves into and provides credible solutions to developmental and other societal problems. It is clearly not about advocating for certain models of growth, organizations or ideas.
Solutions Journalism is, to a large extent, premised on the notion that traditional journalism has focused too much on the problem, rather than the solution – a phenomenon some journalists in some of the world’s leading media are now determined to change.
It looks at where people are working on solutions, focusing not just on what may be working, but how and why it appears to be working (or stumbling). When done well, Solutions Journalism can be both highly informative and engaging while providing valuable insights into how societies may tackle certain important problems better. Those engaged in Solutions Journalism often do so in the belief that reporters who care very much about the problems they cover should also care deeply about helping society find the knowledge of how to solve them, using data and evidence. Briefly, it is about “deep dives, critical assessments, and compelling stories about the ideas, models, policies, organizations and people working to solve our toughest problems.”
Facilitated by the AfDB’s Communication & External Relations Department (CERD), the network will:
- Partner with global leaders in media training to offer current best practice to members in matter related to African development and particularly but not exclusively to Solutions Journalism;
- Offer thematic reporting opportunities (including field visits) with an emphasis on coverage that is compelling and and effective in raising development issues and solutions;
- Provide monthly briefings by African and global experts for syndication to individual and institutional members of the network (these can be published, free-of-charge);
- Grant annual awards at agreed ceremonies for the best Solutions Journalism on Africa’s Structural Transformation;
- Deliver high quality materials from the AfDB and related institutions to aid reporting related to Africa’s economic development and structural transformation;
- Provide a platform for the professional interaction of individual and institutional members.
Membership is by application but open to individual journalists and their organizations, institutions, African and non-African. A prime qualification is the willingness and ability to conduct Solutions Journalism related to will be the development of Africa, particularly the structural transformation of the continent. A membership committee comprising members of the network will select qualified members.