A home to over 1.3 billion population has remained devoid of its own media since long back. In the present climate however the continent has to have an influential, holistic and impartial media serving all member states on an equal footing.
At the 35th ordinary Session of the AU Assembly, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) placed emphasis on Africa’s media representation on the international stage.
He went on to say Africa is often portrayed in the international media negatively. The endless representation as a continent troubled by civil wars, hunger, corruption, greed, disease and poverty is demeaning and dehumanizing and likely driven by a calculated strategy and agenda.
The premier said, “The stereotypical and negative media representations of Africa is not only misinforms the rest of the world about our continent, but it also shapes the way we see ourselves as Africans. Telling our own stories and shaping our own narratives must be our top priority. In this regard, I would like to propose to this august body the establishment of an African Union Continental Media House.”
He stressed that this media house could be organized to provide authoritative news and information on our continent, fight disinformation, promote our collective agenda and offer opportunities for Pan African voices to be heard.
Reasoning from this fact, the African Union (AU) has extended its unreserved support for the establishment of a Pan-African media that has been proposed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD).
The African Union (AU) Chairperson and Senegalese President MackySall on Sunday said AU is ready to provide substantiate support for the idea that having a Pan-Africa Media.
The idea of a Pan-Africa media is imperative and expected to counterbalance representing Africa as a continent troubled by civil wars, hunger, corruption, greed, disease, he said adding that poverty is demeaning and dehumanizing and likely driven by a calculated strategy and agenda.
AU chairperson, hence, said that he strongly supports the idea of establishing a Pan-African media organ that will be one of the biggest media houses in the world and able to convey the voice of Africans in 24 hours through broadcast and print way.
“Having Pan-African media is of a paramount importance in advocating African stance in the world, building our own narrative, transmitting appropriate information about Africa, and showing the positive side of the continent,” as to him.
According to him, the Pan-African media is also vital to disclose the success stories of women and youths, governments that are working tirelessly to modernize the continent and put Africa in the appropriate place in world stages, to talk about African literature, culture, identity, scientists, and the future of Africa.
The concern of Prime Minister Abiy, therefore, for establishing Pan-African media is significant and requires all Africans to push it further to become reality, he noted.
The African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat on his part said that AU is committed to realizing the proposal of PM Abiy to own a Pan-African media that is necessary to perform various tasks.
“Since we have social media networks, communication has become very fast nowadays and has both advantages and challenges for building the image of Africa.”
“Taking this fact into consideration, it is important to improve the negative narrations of the continent. More importantly, we need the Pan-African media to express our identity, vision, interest, cultures, the Africa what we want projects and so on,” he said.
In an exclusive interview with The , Anteneh Tsegaye (PhD) assistant professor at Addis Ababa University, School of Journalism and Communication said, “There is an urgent demand for Africa to have its own media for the purpose of face negotiation, rebranding itself and connecting Africa together in all core endeavors of the spirit and dimensions of Africanism. It’s a high time for Africa to take an inward looking perspective for prosperity and voicing ‘dealing with African issues in African way.”
According to Dr. Anteneh, Africa has gone through uncountable struggles on the ground to emancipate itself from invaders of various forms, most interestingly, both direct and indirect. Even after independence, African nations have gone through dividing political ideologies as a result of the dictations of their former western colonizers in the name of compensation, aid, development or care taking endeavors. These have been at the expense of Pan-Africanism spirit, African nation building process, crafting African nations’ brotherhood with the content and salience of Africanism.
He said, “The interference of the former colonizers of Africa in terms injecting western political ideologies did not help Africa to move forward to brand its pleasant face to the world and engage itself in development efforts in African way. Rather, Africa is considered synonymous to a continent of famine, war, drought and conflict. This mischaracterization of Africa should be stopped by Africans’ engagement to avert the causes, taking inward looking perspective to deal with African issues.” he opined.
Given the above context, Africa should be engaged in a new version of Pan-Africanism collectively in all dimensions. It has to say no to foreign adopted political and development ideologies in the spirit of Pan-Africanism to portray its real face, rebrand its actual identity in a collective manner connecting Africa together. Media is one of the war fronts for this cause. It is vital to remind the power of media in this ‘fight’ given the current western media abuses in reporting African issues. Added to these, it is significant to think of Pan-African media to air African views and connect Africans together to craft sense of African union and brotherhood, Dr. Anteneh stated.
No doubt, media is power and it is a cohesive apparatus to glue society, culture and the continent Africa together. Healthy interaction among these parties is important in political and socio-economic discourse among citizens in a given political map. As a tool of mass communication, media is pivotal to entertaining contending political ideologies and at the same time work for continental integration and social cohesion in the same. It is also a vital machine in enlightening societies and in the attempt to create democratic culture and peaceful social co-existence in the continent.
He further elucidated that as it is known, massive growth of media channels, technology and market has occurred throughout the world since the 1990s. These range from satellite, telecommunications, telephone, digital media and information technologies to national and international newspapers, regional, community and specialized newspapers and magazines. Today we are all conscious of living in the midst of a communications revolution.
“Over the past couple of decades there have been breathtaking advances in communications technologies and in the ways of applying them a few short years ago no one could have foreseen the explosive growth of Facebook or Twitter. What is more, these kinds of innovations seem to be continuing at an accelerating pace,” said Dr. Anteneh.
Today’s young people have been born into a transformed world they can hardly imagine what life was like before the emergence of the Internet and the cellphone. Even in Africa where Internet penetration is still limited or curtailed, cellphone use is growing by leaps and bounds. African youth need to get the right information from the African media, he underlined.
The new media are having an impact on politics and on democracy, but it is still too early to know how fundamental or transformative that impact will be. It quickly became apparent, however, that such a far-reaching transformation was not going to occur any time soon, as nation-states showed that they were quite capable of imposing real limits on the Internet.
As learnt from Dr. Anteneh, to date, in fact, the consequences of new media for political life have been less significant than those that have stemmed from the emergence and the now pervasive influence of television. Indeed, a case could be made that, even in recent years, the growth of satellite and cable television has been more politically consequential than any advances in digital media.
“The new media have already had significant political effects, or that they are likely to have even more dramatic effects in the future. As is demonstrated by the use of new media during the recent Arab uprisings, these technological advances clearly have added effective new tools to the arsenal of people challenging authoritarian rule even as their oppressors are hard at work seeking ways to use these same tools to thwart them. The new technologies are also leading to changes in some aspects of the politics of democratic countries, notably political campaigning and fundraising,” he elaborated.
Above all, the new media are affecting the way in which public opinion is formed and transmitted. Sometimes, the global media can be a faceless teacher of conflicts and social disorder. Africa cannot escape this global dynamism in media metamorphosis and its possible effects. Africa is part of the international trend towards these multifaceted developments of new media and information economy.
The African Union, as the most mandated institution for Africa and Pan-Africanism, he added should establish global media house to air or voice African issues. This proposed media house should engage in African face negotiation process in communicating Africa to the world. Obviously, there are three faces in communication processes; the face given to Africa, its real face and the pleasant face Africa wants to portray to the world. The last face is the focal point to avert the wrong face given to Africa by the western media and rebrand its image globally.
“Also, the Pan-African media ought to aggressively work to connect Africans together in all core endeavors mainstreaming the spirit and dimensions of Africanism. This recommendation for African Union is not unique, as for example the European Union (Euro News) and China (CGTN) own international media houses for the same cause. In sum, Africa should be heard and its nations ought to connect together socially, politically and economically,” Dr. Anteneh wrapped up.
BY ADDISALEM MULAT
THURSDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2022