Media Conference kicks off in Nairobi

His Highness the Aga Khan interacts with conference delegates moments before the official opening of the Pan African Media conference held at the  Kenyatta Conference Centre. PHOTO/ CORRESPONDENT

His Highness the Aga Khan interacts with conference delegates moments before the official opening of the Pan African Media conference held at the Kenyatta Conference Centre. PHOTO/ CORRESPONDENT

By EMMANUEL ONYANGO
Posted Thursday, March 18 2010 at 13:32

The Pan African Conference got underway on Thursday in Nairobi, attracting an attendance of media experts and political leaders in discussing the role of media in an African democracy.

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Chief guest President Kibaki set the pace with an acknowledgement on “the advent of citizen journalism has become possible because of tools such as SMS, blogs and social networking websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Myspace.”

The President challenged the conference to examine how new media can be used to deepen democracy on the African continent, in fighting the vices of corruption and nepotism, and in addressing the environmental challenges Africa must deal with due to the effects of climate change.

Nation Media Group founder The Aga Khan announced plans to establish anew Graduate School of Media and Communications that will be based in East Africa.

The school, the first of its kind in the region, will have its first campus in Nairobi by next year and later be integrated in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Aga Khan University to be created in Arusha.

“I am pleased to tell you that The Aga Khan University is planning to establish a new Graduate School of Media and Communications, based in East Africa and dedicated to advancing the excellence of media performance and the strengthening of ethical media practices throughout the developing world,” the Aga Khan said in his speech.

The proposed Graduate School of Media will offer a Masters Degree program, serving recent university graduates as well as media owners, managers, and mid-career journalists.

It will also offer continuing education classes and establish a special program in media management.

In addition, the new School will create a Forum on the Media Future, a place for conducting and disseminating research.

“This new School will also work on the cutting edge of media technology, embracing especially the new on-line world – its complications and its potentials. Here, as in other areas, Africa has the capacity to leap-frog into an advanced position in applying these new technologies. The rapid spread here of mobile phone technology supports this view – as do recent advances in broadband availability – including the new SEACOM undersea cable development,” the Aga Khan said.

He at the same time reckoned that the quest for media freedom in Africa should not give license to the introduction of liberal media practices.

“Let me sound a word of caution. Freedom, in any area of human activity, does not mean the moral license to abuse that freedom.  It would bea sad thing if the people of Africa in the name of freedom, were expected to welcome the worst of media practices, whether they are home-grown or imported.”

“I am convinced that the best way for media, in Africa and elsewhere, to maintain their independence is to prove their indispensability,” said the Aga Khan.

The conference is one of the key activities marking the 50th Anniversary of the Nation Media Group.

Among those in the packed plenary hall at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre during the morning session were President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, ex-Presidents Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Information and Communications minister Samuel Poghisio.

Daily Nation

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