African journalists join AfDB to explore the path to a green and powered Africa

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In Lusaka during this week’s African Development Bank (AfDB) 2016 Annual Meetings, the Bank and the Earth Journalism Network (EJN), environmental program of the media development NGO Internews, hosted a Journalist Training Program for a selected group of African journalists. With the Annual Meetings focused on the theme Energy and Climate Change, the training program was designed to help participating reporters deepen their understanding of the issues Africa faces in achieving climate-smart development, and make use of contemporary tools and techniques for enhancing reporting on these complex issues. The training program was a multi-partner effort of AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, its Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and water and sanitation offices, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), together with EJN.

In his welcoming remarks to the group, AfDB Energy and Climate Change Director Alex Rugamba noted that, “This year’s Meetings are particularly significant for us, and will serve as a game-changer in the way we do business in Africa.” The Meetings were the first gathering of the Bank’s governing body and member countries since Bank President Adesina announced a revolutionary New Deal on Energy in Africa to provide universal energy access in Africa by 2025, encompassing on-grid generation, transmission and distribution and distributed solutions (mini-grid and off-grid), along with clean cooking and energy efficiency.  In the face of these transformative aspirations for Africa, Rugamba expressed the Bank’s “strong commitment to the value of communications – for transparency, education, knowledge sharing, and allowing the fruits of our learning to blossom throughout the continent. We must come to understand and share both our accomplishments and our challenges.”

To select reporters for the training, EJN ran a competitive process in consultation with the Bank, using criteria related to applicants’ knowledge of climate change, reporting experience, media affiliation and country base. Ultimately, 11 journalists from nine AfDB member countries were selected from 144 applicants to take part in the training program as EJN Fellows. During the training, the 11 reporters took part in workshops on identifying priority issues and using open data and visualization for effective reporting on energy and climate change, a roundtable with experts on climate finance, and a panel on challenges African countries face to balance their urgent development needs with their commitments under the global climate change treaty and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“We decided to organize this training with EJN because of its obvious value to our work with African countries,” said Kurt Lonsway, AfDB Division Manager for Environment and Climate Change. “We understand that the evolving landscape of development and climate change, particularly now in the post-COP21 environment, is complex and requires careful and thorough analysis and access to well-documented data. African citizens can benefit from a well-aired discourse on the emerging changes in their countries, and as the premier development institution in Africa, we feel a strong commitment to ensure that we contribute to that airing.”

In the Meetings, the reporters had access to high-level events with African heads of state and thought-leaders, including The Path to Universal Access to Energy by 2025, an Africa Leaders Roundtable on climate change and energy access, and panels on Africa’s Energy, Financing Renewable Energy in Africa and Advancing Africa’s Solar Revolution. In addition, they had an opportunity to interview some of the high-level participants in the Meetings. In an interview with Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO, Ms. Ishii pointed out that African countries must be supported to ensure that their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to constrain emissions under the climate change convention remain in line with their development goals, and she urged the press to help keep this urgent effort alive in the public discourse.
Maureen Odiwuor, a 30-year old reporter covering the climate change beat for the Kenyan newspaper The Standard, was one of the chosen EJN Fellows. At the program’s conclusion she said, “The training helped enhance my capabilities to cover climate change,” and indicated that she applied to the program because she is eager to improve her knowledge about adaptation to the impacts of extreme events in Africa. 

During the week, the journalists were exposed to considerations of the full range of issues at the nexus of energy and climate change, from renewables to adaptation. In his presentation on climate finance, for instance, AfDB’s Division Manager for Water and Sanitation (East and Southern Africa) Osward Chanda pointed out that adaptation funding is especially relevant to Africa, where many regions already face substantial variability in rainfall patterns and hydrological conditions, and where most climate scenarios project that climatic variability is likely to increase.

The training program was led by EJN’s Gustavo Faleiros and Michael Simire, Editor-in-Chief of Environews Nigeria. "EJN is committed to improving the quantity and quality of environmental journalism all around the world. The urgency for Africa to achieve a low carbon future makes our work on this continent even more urgent, and the partnership with AfDB a strategic alliance,” said Faleiros, "and this training has helped contribute to advancing that goal." ”It was a gathering of highly resourceful journalists, who seemed willing to learn,” added trainer Michael Simire.
Journalists attending the Program included:


Media House / Organisation

Albert Baudouin Twizeyimana


Uwaegbulam Chinedum Emmanuel

The Guardian Nigeria

Friday Phiri


Hope Mafaranga

New Vision

Israel Bionyi Nyoh

Fair Planet

Louise Mathilde Sarah Sarant

Mada Masr

Maureen Akinyi Odiwuor


Mercy Chaluma

Malawi Broadcast Corporation

Munyaradzi Makoni

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Posent Ndovi

Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC)

Violet Nakamba

Zambia Daily Mail

About Internews' Earth Journalism Network

Internews developed the Earth Journalism Network (EJN) to empower and enable journalists from developing countries to cover the environment more effectively. With a mission to improve the quantity and quality of environmental coverage and over 8,000 members from 120 countries, EJN trains journalists to cover a wide variety of topics, develops ground-breaking digital media sties, establishes networks of environmental journalists in countries where they don't exist, and builds their capacity where they do, through workshops and development of training materials, Fellowship programs, support for story production and distribution, and dispersing small grants.