Advancing industrialization in Africa requires every Stakeholder

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The AU Office convened a Media Orientation workshop on Africa’s industrialization on 25th to 26th September 2019 to enable the media report competently on industrialization.

The workshop was convened in collaboration with African Union Commission (AUC) Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the AUC Directorate of Information and Communication (DIC) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), according to the AU source.  

Running under the theme “Building Media Awareness on Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa (AIDA) and related strategies: Industrial Policy Literacy Capacity Building Session for Business/ Economic Journalists”, the orientation workshop is part of awareness activities towards the Africa Industrialization Week, which will be held on 18th – 22nd November 2019.

The three-day Media Orientation workshop was attended by 30 business journalists identified from the five geographic regions of the continent. The participants which were carefully, and deliberately chosen from social media, electronic media, print, bloggers, among others, from both international media groups, independent practitioners, and the Diaspora, provides a balanced high profile skills set that will enrich the training, and knowledge exchange.

Mr. Rongai Chizema, Chief Technical Advisor & Head of Implementation and Coordination Unit (ICU) within the Department of Trade and Industry at the AUC unpacked some of the key concepts of industrialization, and defined industrialization as the process by which traditionally non-industrial sectors (such as agriculture, education, health) of an economy become increasingly similar to the manufacturing sector of the economy.

Mr. Chizema emphasized that the centrality of industrialization towards building self-reliance and self-sufficiency in Africa has been acknowledged since the 1980s with the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) 1980-2000. For example, one of the aspirations of Agenda 2063, is that every African should enjoy rising income by at least 30% with an inclusive and sustainable industrialization as the linchpin to achieving this goal continent.
He believes that journalists remain the fourth arm of Governments and an important channel to communicate with the continent and beyond on Africa’s industrialization agenda, yet in practice, the role of the media in economic development is sometimes overlooked. As such, it is critical for the continent to take advantage of its media to tell its “own story.” Mr. Chizema also reinforced that it is time to re-orient the thinking in the continent, and begin to marshal the collective pan-African resource capacity, and deliver a sustainable and inclusive Industrialization path-way for Africa.

In her keynote address, Mrs. Esther Azaa Yambou Tankou, Head of Information Division, Department of Information and Communication at the AUC underscored that if audiences are not accustomed to digest a diversity of relevant information, there is a risk that messages are either underestimated or not understood. With a lack of diversity and richness in reporting, we become used to talking about a very limited number of topics. She lauded the significance of the media in bridging this challenge, by ensuring adequate visibility for the Department’s programmes, hence the decision by the Department to convene the Media Awareness Session.

“In the media sector, it is arguably more difficult to report on economic and financial issues than ribbon cutting ceremonies. A lack of understanding and expertise can hamper economic, political and social issues reporting. Journalists should therefore, have an aptitude to be researched and analytics - oriented.” Mrs. Tankou stated.

Other distinguished speakers such as H.E. Ms. Barabara Schaefer, Head of German Development Cooperation, German Embassy and Mr. Kennedy Letlhogela, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), agreed that the training seminar can go a long way in capacitating the media on industrialization as well develop an appetite for journalists to cover industrialization issues.

The Media Orientation workshop – the first to be held by the Department of Trade and Industry, recognizes the significance of building the industrial and development literacy capacity of journalists to drive any meaningful social, political and economic transformation in the Continent. This is in realization that well-prepared journalists are better placed to report objectively on developmental issues.

The Media Orientation workshop on Africa’s industrialization concluded with a call that media students and graduates should embrace a more dynamic reporting approach — and for that to happen, editors also need to take on the changes in society, and citizens’ expectations. These observations are quite relevant to the present day dynamic in journalism, and can strengthen our cooperation and coordination towards the continent’s Vision as explained in Agenda 2063, which is also commonly known as “The Africa We Want”.