by IAWRT Kenya
The African Media Convention (AMC) which first took place in Arusha, Tanzania in 2022 is now an annual event celebrated by journalists, civil societies, international partners, and other stakeholders from across Africa. The event is planned to coincide with World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd of every year. This year’s event was held in Lusaka, Zambia, from 11-13 May 2023.
IAWRT Kenya chapter head and international board treasurer Josephine Karani spoke at the event on the safety of women journalists. She expressed concerns about digital safety and security in journalism and especially during the election period.
“Safety of women journalists is a growing concern by the day. Freedom of expression is elusive, the messenger is endangered more than ever before. Every election year exposes journalists to danger from the public, politicians, and the government of the day. The messenger has turned to the hunted.”Josephine Karani, IAWRT Kenya chapter head and IAWRT International Treasurer
During the three-day discussions, media stakeholders expressed deep concern about continued violations against freedom of the press, access to information, and the safety of journalists, despite thirty (30) years since the UN General Assembly proclaimed May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day and 75 years since the declaration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Recalling the important role of media, the Zambian Minister of Information and Media and Chief Government Spokesperson Hon. Chushi Kasand called on the African media to provide accurate and factual information underlining “this is what will empower you to participate in the affairs of your countries and the continent at large.”
Through its communication policies, strategies and practices, the African Union supports journalists’ rights to seek, receive and impart information. It recognizes that media plays a key role in ensuring full respect of freedom of expression, in promoting the free flow of information and ideas, in assisting people to make informed decisions and in facilitating and strengthening democracy.”Ms Wynne Musabayana, Head of Communications, Information and Communications Directorate, African Union Commission
To address these challenges, participants recommended enhanced collaboration between the African media, African Union Member States, UNESCO, internet intermediaries, and other media development partners, to mitigate the effects of violations against journalists and media workers as well as the viability of the media sector in Africa.
The role of the media within the communication and ICT sector and the growing support from media partners for Agenda 2063 has already been acknowledged by the AU-Specialised Technical Committee on Communication and Information Communications Technology. There is a call to further build the capacity of African media practitioners and the industry at large, in partnership with media development partners and Tech companies.
In her closing remarks, Dr. Rita Bissonauth, Director of UNESCO Liaison to AU and UNECA applauded the Government of Zambia and the organisers for successfully hosting the 2nd AMC.
“The discussions on important issues contributing to enhanced freedoms for the offline and online media in Africa, coupled with the challenges and opportunities identified, will be a reference for our work and future interventions in promoting further an enabling media environment on the African continent.”Dr. Rita Bissonauth, the Director of UNESCO Liaison to AU and UNECA
The 2nd AMC was largely funded by UNESCO through its Multi donor Programme for freedom of expression and the safety of journalists and its regular programme.
IAWRT has been included in the AMC Steering Committee to be planning and preparing for the annual event, among eight other organisations.
The 3rd AMC will take place in Accra, Ghana in May 2024.