Scholars underscore leaders’ commitments to realizing Pan-African media

ADDIS ABABA- The conceived PanAfrica media would have paramount importance in fairly and accurately portraying the continent and proactively detecting and countering global outlets attempt to misrepresent facts, journalism and communication experts said, calling for more push from African leaders.

Speaking to The Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA), Addis Ababa University Journalism and Communication Assistant Professor Abdissa Zerai (P.h.D) stated that building a professional and independent continental media requires the active involvement of African leaders.

The establishment of a Pan-African media entails immense resources, trained professionals and advanced technology African leaders have to make concrete engagement to translate the vision into a reality. “It is common for African leaders to make similar claims, but in practice most African countries are reluctant to play their part,” the academician claimed. The idea that Africa should have its own media is not new.

During the Cold War, the overall flow of information was from the West to the other parts of the world, and the corporate media’s coverage and their attitudes towards the rest of the world were highly distorted. People of the Third World waged stiff resistance to change this injustice.

Abdissa further highlighted that numerous discussions were taking place to change the West’s monopoly in flow of global information and create a fairground.

At that time, the West, especially the U.S. and the United Kingdom, threatened to cut off support for African countries if they pursued their ambition.

The struggles were intensified in the 70’s and 80’s and as a result of this, the Pan-African News Agency (PANA) was formed on 20 July 1979 in Addis Ababa by the Organization of African Unity with the intention of addressing the information distortion.

He, however, noted that the Dakarbased pan-African News Agency has not been able to make an impact due to the fact that it only broadcasts protocol news and the AU member states do not contribute funds.

Indeed, the existence of the Pan-African News Agency on the continent has largely been forgotten.

“The PANA did not do much because of the reluctance of the member states to contribute money and because the leaders in power in each country were dictators that could not give freedom to the press.

If PANA was to stand firm, it would be able to become a vibrant African media that equates with modern-day global institutions.

The idea of establishing a PanAfrican media is good, but from the experience so far I do not think it will be implemented beyond words.

Although the idea is practical, I do not expect the media to be given greater freedom to reverse the false information about the continent.” Sharing the above rationale, Addis Ababa University Journalism and Communication Assistant Professor Mulatu Alemayehu (PhD) said AU member states are expected to support the ambition of a continental media and back the vision financially and in other forms.

The scholar urged African countries to formulate a long term strategic plan for the effective execution of a Pan-African media that should be equipped with advanced technology and knowledge.

Meticulous formulation of the business model and editorial policy of the institute are also worth equal consideration, Mulatu remarked.


The 11 February 2022

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