The President of the AfDB Affirms that Media Freedom and Development Go Hand in Hand

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From May 2nd to May 5th, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been a close partner of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day in Tunis on ‘New Voices that help transform societies.’

“Media freedom and development are connected. You fail one you fail both! Only when you members of the press are free, transparent and accountable development can take place”, said President Donald Kaberuka to the 300 guests, part of international media and civil society during a lunch hosted by the African Development Bank at the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day in Tunis on May 4th 2012.

The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, opened the lunch with welcome remarks. She paid tribute to the collaboration and work of the AfDB. “We look forward to pacing the way forward in collaboration with the African Development Bank on this young continent full of opportunities.”
African journalists created the declaration of Windhoek 21 years ago, which laid the foundations of an independent and pluralist African press. Every year on this day, the international community pays tribute at the World Press Freedom Day. This year, UNESCO and the African Development Bank celebrated it together.

Representing the Tunisian host government of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, Ridha Kazdaghli, Secretary of State and Counsel of Communication to the Chief of Government, reaffirmed the symbolic importance of this event taking place in Tunisia a year following the Revolution. The African Development Bank is working closely with its partner, the Tunisian state, to ensure the sustainability of the pioneer role of Tunisia in the Arab Spring and the continued improvements of governance and transparency.

Speaking on behalf of the African Union, Habiba Mejri-Cheikh, Director of the Department of Public Information, insisted on the progress made while outlining the remaining challenges for achieving media freedom in Africa.

This luncheon, hosted by the AfDB, was part of a number of side events and activities surrounding the World Press Freedom Day 2012 in Tunis. These activities included a roundtable on Tunisian media and a journalist training. On  May 2nd, the AfDB sponsored a roundtable on "Media and Governance: how to preserve the pioneering role of Tunisia in the awakening of the Arab World" in cooperation with Tunisia Live (the Tunisian information site in English). This roundtable was a contribution to the ongoing debate about the role of media in post-revolution Tunisia. On May 3rd and 5th, the AfDB organized a training of African journalists at the African Centre for the Training of Journalists and Communicators (CAPJC) on the role of media for fostering accountability.