A one-day workshop named The Role of Media in Supporting Sustainable Development in Africa was held in Cairo on Sunday.
A number of Egyptian and African journalists, diplomats and scholars attended the workshop, which was organised by the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) and Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS).
Ahmed Shaheen Amin, EAPD’s secretary-general, said that the media has become one of the most important powers that back socio-economic development in Africa.
Amin said that the role of the media in this area is expanding “one day after another,” especially since its tools are diversifying due to ongoing technological advancements.
“This workshop will enhance integration and communication between the African media outlets,” said Amin.
He also highlighted Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's role in establishing the EAPD, which he announced at the 23rd African Union (AU) summit in Malabo in June 2014.
The EAPD was formally launched on 1 July 2014 through the merger of the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa and the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Its objectives include “adopting a demand-driven approach and responding to the priority needs of countries”; “working with a global perspective and building partnerships at all levels”; “focusing on the enabling sectors: women's empowerment, education, heath, food and security”; and “following the ‘learning by doing and from feedback’ approach in our work.”
Waheed Abdel-Megeed, the head of ACPSS, pointed out that all media outlets have a shared view about the significance of their role in increasing awareness about the process of development, especially in countries of the Global South.
“We need the African media to create more communication between our societies and put an emphasis on the issue of African identity and development. The media also has to speak about the work that is being done on the level of the African continent,” said Abdel-Megeed.
“This will compensate the preoccupation of each African society with its internal conditions, which is normal.”
Abu Bakr Hefny Mahmoud, the aide of Egypt’s foreign minister for African affairs, said that this workshop comes amid a number of developments, including the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), which Egypt is currently hosting, as well as the country's leadership of the AU in 2019.
He also referred to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that recently entered into force.
“Egypt led the Organisation of African Union, the AU’s predecessor, many times in the past. But, for the first time, Egypt is taking the leadership of the African Union,” Mahmoud noted.
He said that a deal such as that on African trade “was in the minds of the African founding fathers of joint collaboration,” including Egypt’s late president Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Ghana’s late president Kwame Nkrumah.
“The media has a role to tell the African people about these activities among the African countries. You [journalists] are the fourth power,” stressed Mahmoud.
On 8 July, the AU said that the parliaments of 27 African states have already approved AfCFTA, which was launched during an extraordinary summit for the pan-African organisation.
After Nigeria and Benin signed the agreement during the summit, the number of states that ratified it reached 54, said the AU.
The AfCFTA will be the largest economic bloc since the establishment of the World Trade Organization, as it includes 1.2 billion consumers. It seeks to triple the volume of intra-African trade from 17 percent to 60 percent by 2022.