By Busayo Sotunde
Africa media practitioners have been urged to use the media as a catalyst for promoting the continent socio-economic development as well as its image. This plea came from the just concluded African Media Leader Forum (AMLF) which took place at the El mouradi Gammarth Hotel, Tunisia.
With the theme “Empowering Citizens through social Media and Technology adaptation-what future for traditional media”, the forum adjudicate the need to use media for social growth. It recounted the event of January 2011 where media played a pivotal role in bringing about political and social change in Tunisia, which later spread through the entire north region and beyond.
“The story of Tunisia was told very vividly by the youth through the social media… underscoring the reality and power of social media.” Said Richard Uku, head of communication at the African Development Bank (AFDB).
“For us the media is a key vehicle to promote development in Africa, to help tell Africa’s story positively and to protect the continent as a forward looking region that is indeed striving to booster inclusive economic growth.” Uku added.
At the forum, the President of AFDB, Dr Donald Kaberuka denounced any environment where media is not free, labeling them as not conducive for economic growth.
He believes the onus is on media to make democracy inclusive for all.
The AFDB President advocate the need for citizen to take control from organizing group and owning it, when he said “Facebook and Twitter is democracy at its best as it delivers news in real time.”
“Media has to monitor and ensure continued networking to construct Africa’s image by using social media” Bineka Diop, the Executive Director of Femmes Africa solicitant supported, while asking the question where is Africa’s Aljazeera?
However, to achieve this, World Bank’s Eric Chinje said the media needs to be supported in order to occupy developmental change.
Furthermore, Africa Capacity Building Foundation’s Frannie Leautier added that there should be a coalition of networks and capacity to organize with different types of media forming a solid hub where the drive is not competition regarding which form of media is relevant but in unity in disseminating information.
However, one of the ways to ensure this development, the forum adjudicate is the focus on how mobile technology content can be used to reach the audience.
Mobile platform like cell phones give media organization the opportunity to interact with communities on a platform that is always on and used throughout the consumer’s day.
Some of the speakers emphasized the need for quality content if the media organization aims to profit from mobile platforms.
The Speakers also suggested that journalists should focus on producing unique & relevant local content on mobile platform as users can find other more general information easily but hyper local content is the most valuable for audience.
This is an avenue that needs to be developed truly as recent report by Informa Telecoms and media ranked Africa as the second most connected region in terms of mobile subscription with 616million mobile subscribers and the possibility of hitting 1billion subscription by 2016.