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Govt officials agree on crucial role of media

Nov 13, 2012, 9:20 AM

Experts are increasingly acknowledging the important role the press must play in African development. Participants at the 5th African Media Leaders Forum, which convened this Thursday and Friday in Dakar, discussed the function of media enterprises in the creation of a prosperous Africa.

A ray of hope emerged from the 5th African Media Leaders Forum last Thursday in Dakar. Several politicians present at the conference, including the Prime Minister of Senegal, Abdoul Mbaye, the Vice-Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Bülent Arinç, and Cameroon’s minister of communications, Mr. Issa Tchiroma Bakary, agreed on the crucial role the media must play to bolster the continent’s position in the global scene.

Their collective agreement on this issue marks an important step forward in promoting active, responsible citizenship in the media, as to date many public authorities in Africa have shown relative indifference to the state of the press.

In an environment that requires collective action from all social actors, the Prime Minister of Senegal, Mr. Abdoul Mbaye, believes fostering dialogue between citizens, media and governments in African countries is of the utmost importance.

An option which, according to the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Mr Bulent Arinc. requires finding the bases of dialogue and reconciliation between politicians and media people. For him, “the media have an important role to play in the cooperation of African states.” Moreover, he believes that establishing a healthy environment for the press is crucial for creating peace and stability throughout the world.

To achieve as much, he suggested, there must be freedom of expression throughout African countries underpinned by a responsible press mindful of professional and ethical conduct. Mr. Markus Brauckmann of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Kas Media Africa) believes the integrity of the press in Africa could be maintained by effective media regulation.

The minister of communications of Cameroon, however, claims that the inherent self-regulation of the press serves exactly that purpose. M. Issa Tchiroma Bakary cited several community media associations in Africa as well as Argentina, as evidence that the media operates better with self-regulation.