February 20, 2009 - African media experts, managers, and journalists from various state-run and private organizations along with communication practitioners from regional institutions, including the AUC, NEPAD Secretariat, UNECA, UNDPI, UNAIDS, OSAA and the AfDB, last Friday, February 20, 2009, in Johannesburg, called on each other to closely collaborate in efforts at delivering development information in Africa. The NEPAD Media Dialogue, the first of its kind, gave media scholars, journalists and practitioners from the US, UK, and across African continent the opportunity to brainstorm on difficulties journalists face in collecting news and information from the NEPAD Secretariat and from regional development agencies, the lack of interest among African journalists in covering development issues in Africa, and the laxity demonstrated by communication liaison officials in development institutions in updating and sharing information with the press.
Following two panel discussions and fourteen presentations by NEPAD Secretariat and UN agencies, participants made thirty-one recommendations, key among them an agreement on the need for communication professionals to be proactive in sharing information and covering NEPAD and other development issues in Africa, the need to strengthen the communication and advocacy units of the NEPAD Secretariat, explore the possibility of creating an AU-NEPAD Goodwill Ambassadors and Heroes to serve as champions of African causes, and involve the media from the beginning of development projects and not just to report on their launching. Participants also emphasized that the African Union Commission, UN agencies, the AfDB, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and other stakeholders within the NEPAD framework should allocate enough financial, technical and human resources to match NEPAD’s communication needs.
The Media Cluster, comprising UN agencies, the NEPAD Secretariat and AfDB, which took part in the meeting, is planning to explore ways of turning the recommendations into meaningful action.