The second African Media convention which was hosted by Zambia has ended with a call for African governments to double their efforts in creating a conducive operating environment that guarantees freedom of opinion and expression, and press freedom.
Government was represented by the Minister of Information and Media Chushi Kasanda, who urged African media players to sustain their efforts of promoting the growth of the media on the continent through various forums.
Speaking when she officially closed the Media Conference in Lusaka, Ms Kasanda noted that governments are aware that the media is central towards achieving sustainable development of individual countries.
Ms Kasanda said that African governments have a high ambition for their people and to attain this, there is need for capacity building of journalists, while addressing the plights of the media fraternity, in order for them to carry out their functions without impediments.
The Minister cited Agenda 2063 which also includes the need for Africa to attain a free, independent and professional media that will serve as a catalyst, without which the realisation of goals set for the continent can be difficult to attain.
She noted that the Zambian government has restored media freedom and the freedom of expression.
“I urge the Southern Africa Editors Forum to bring down issues discussed at the forums such as this one into the newsrooms for purposes of building capacities among media practitioners,” Ms Kasanda stated.
European Union Ambassador Jacek Jankowski recognised the efforts of the Zambian government in restoring press freedom and expression, but urged the country to improve the legislative framework, including enacting the access to information bill.
Ambassador Jankowski also discussed the influence of artificial intelligence on journalism and society. He emphasized the need for Africa’s voice in the global debate about AI’s consequences for jobs and quality journalism.
He reiterated the EU’s commitment to engage with governments, media, civil society, and international fora to strengthen press freedom worldwide.
And United Nations Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali said that media professionals have a duty to abstain from reporting that contributes to stigma, discrimination and violence against minority groups.
Ms Mutali commended the media fraternity across Africa for initiating the forum and emphasizing the importance of learning, exchanging ideas, and strategizing across borders to enhance the role of the media in Africa.
She called on media stakeholders to work together and find solutions, including lobbying governments to ensure respect for media freedom and freedom of expression.
African Union Representative Wynme Musabayana emphasized the role Zambia played in the history of the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union, particularly in the frontline states’ fight against apartheid and white minority rule, championed by former President Kenneth Kaunda.
Ms Musabayana encouraged journalists to use their platform to educate and inform citizens about the communication campaign, titled “Our Africa, Our Future,” to celebrate its achievements and address ongoing challenges.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) representative Rosa Lydia commended Zambia for successfully hosting the second Africa Media Conference, stating that Africa is on track to achieving the desired goal of promoting media freedom on the
The Chairperson of the Southern Africa Editors Forum, Willie Mponda, commended the Zambian government for implementing positive media reforms, such as reopening closed radio and TV stations and amending laws hostile to press freedom.
Mr Mponda noted that such reforms send a strong signal to other African countries that building a strong working relationship with the media is possible and benefits ordinary people.
And Media Liaison Committee chairperson Enock Ngoma called on African governments to attend to the media plights stating that the safety of journalists and laws governing the media are crucial responsibilities of the government and the African Union Commission.