By Victor Juma
Media managers and scholars around the world will meet in March to thrash out ways of rolling back negative perceptions hindering the continent’s ability to attract foreign direct investments. The Pan Africa media conference, which will be held on March 18-19 next year, will bring together prominent personalities in media, business, governments, civil society, and academia across the world.
Some of the 40 eminent guests lined up to grace the event include the Aga Khan, Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, former South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki, telecom investor Mo Ibrahim, and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
Among the items on the panellists’ agenda include the image of Africa before the local and foreign media, governance standards and revamping journalism for the next decade.
“We want to bring media owners from all over Africa and shatter the perception that in Africa, media organisations have to be small and operate in a shadowy manner to survive,” said Mr Amadou Mahtar, the executive director of Africa Media Initiative (AMI) that is partnering with the Nation Media Group (NMG) in organising the conference, adding that AMI can provide linkages between African media enterprises and foreign investors.
This comes at a time when Africa’s share of the global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow has continued to shrink, attributed to the negative picture of the continent that has emerged on local and international media.
In 2008, Africa received $72 billion in FDI inflows out of the total $1,941 billion in the world despite it enormous potential.
A huge fraction of the flows went to Asia and Latin America.
A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says Africa will have to sharpen its competitive edge in the battle for FDI at a time when capital flows have dwindled in the wake of the global economic meltdown.
The conference, whose key theme is Reflections on the past, present, and prospects for the future, will coincide with NMG’s 50th anniversary.
Mr Linus Gitahi, NMG’s CEO, said that although the event has been inspired by the golden jubilee, the focus will be on the African media experience in general and charting the way forward for the Fourth Estate in terms of its role and evolving form.
“This is an opportunity to get together as peers, have conversations and look at the progress we have made in the past and how we can make a positive impact in the next 50 years,” he said.//Business Daily