The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians abroad, Dr Momodou Tangara, yesterday opened a two-day regional forum on the theme: “Media and Economic Development in a Globalising World”, at the Sheraton Hotel.
It was organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the Government of the Gambia for capacity building in the media sector.
Among the objectives of the forum is to stimulate debate on emerging economic development and democracy issues as well as journalism Professionalism in the region and also to strengthen partnerships and links for effective dialogue.
This workshop is in response to a request by the government of The Gambia for capacity building in the media.
Speaking at the forum, Dr Tangara said it will engage the media and government into a dialogue, noting that the media should always provide itself as a voice of the people and serve as a watchdog to make sure that the rule of law is respected.
He stated that the setting up of the School of Communication at the University of the Gambia is a step in the right direction, adding that this would give practicing journalists the opportunity to learn more about the media.
He pointed out that sometimes the media portrays the bad image of Africa, adding that the media should not only bring problems but instead have to come up with solutions.
Dr Tangara thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for holding such an important forum in The Gambia.
Delivering the welcome remarks at the forum, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Alhagie Cham, stated that it is common knowledge that the media is both an influential and inevitable element in the socio economic and political development of any nation, adding that the media have a responsibility to contribute in addressing unfortunate occurrences.
He acknowledged some instances where the media seeks to occupy a critical position in shaping the political, economic and democratic processes of society.
Giving an overview on Media Education in The Gambia, Professor Muhammadou Kah vice chancellor of the University of the Gambia said the university is ten years old, and a School of Information Technology and Communication was created after consultations with the chancellor of UTG President Yahya Jammeh and other stakeholders, adding that the chancellor was supportive of the creation of the new UTG school.
He further stated that the main objectives of the School of IT and Communications is to prepare individuals in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and to develop a cadre of media professionals who will address the information technology, communications, media and managerial needs of organizations in a developing country context, yet remain competitive both locally and internationally.
He pointed out that media practitioners must be equipped with adequate knowledge in agriculture, health, education, fiscal, political and social issues, and research skills in order to be valuable contributors and actors in development.
Olusegun Adeniy, chairman editorial board THISDAY Newspaper in Nigeria, also presented a paper on “Media and Development - adaptation in a Globalizing World”.