The 6th Eastern Africa Media Training under the theme The role of the media in positioning Africa in the 21st Century was successfully held in Bagamoyo, Tanzania on March 25-29, 2008. With participants from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and USA, the occasion underlined the importance of the media to position the African continent positively in the 21st century.
Since it’s inception in 2003, the Eastern Africa Media Training has been training journalists from East Africa on development related issues. The 2003 Media Training focused on exposing journalists to the workings of the World Trade Organization. In 2004 the focus was on Business and International Trade while 2005 discussed Property Rights in the African Context. In 2006, the theme was Conquering Poverty Through business in Eastern Africa while the 2007 training focused on Turning African People into a Resource.
The event was graced by Mr. Salva Rweyemamu, State House Director of Communication-Tanzania who gave a Keynote Speech on “The role of the media in peace building in Africa.” He emphasized that media houses should focus on Truthfulness; Fairness; Training and Responsible journalism. He advised the journalists to desist from sensational news and seek to respect and protect institutions in the continent.
The media’s special role in a democratic society cannot be ignored. Speaking at the event, Njeri Kabeberi of Centre for Multiparty Democracy (Kenya) stated that democracy is a process but not an event that ends at the ballot box which must be supported by strong institutions. “A government gets its legitimacy from the free will of the people hence governments must carter for the peoples’ welfare.” She added.
Addressing economic inequalities in Africa during the training, James Shikwati - IREN’s director, said; “self interest drives economies. To bring down the escalating poverty levels in the continent, there is need for Africans to be selfish and advocate for policies that favour local investors. Human beings are creatures that respond to incentives and an environment that rewards creativity. Africans should not only pay taxes to build Africa but also demand services for taxes.
Benedict Tembo from Zambia, described the training as an eye opener as to how to report on Africa. “I will no longer reinforce negative stereotypes when reporting on the continent. I have also learnt from the Kenyans on the negative effect of the post election violence hence will advocate for media to be used as a medium of peace building”
Through these annual trainings, IREN utilizes the power of the media to propagate sound economic ideas.
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