The time is ripe for Africa to find its voice in the global Information order, says Nigeria’s information Minister Lai Mohammed.
Mr. Mohammed said this in Lagos on Wednesday when the leadership of the Pan African News Agency, PANA, paid him a visit.
He decried the negative reportage of events in Africa by the western media wondering why recent economic growth and developmental efforts were under reported.
He is also disturbed that Western media coverage of the African continent has been generally limited to regions of conflict and why they keep getting coverage of African issues wrong.
“The spread of democracy, economic growth that for decades remained among the strongest in the world and the end of most of the wars that bedeviled Africa for years are some of the good news coming out of Africa but these are rarely reported. What we see in the media are mostly negative news that portrays the continent as a land of plagues, poverty and hopelessness”.
Nigeria’s Information Minister wants the Pan African News Agency resuscitated to play the role for which it was founded about four decades ago.
He says African countries must come together to ensure the survival of the agency so that the world can see Africa from the African perspective.
“There is no doubt that PANA today is a shadow of its own self. If African stories cannot be told by Africans from the African perspective, events on the continent will always be viewed from the prisms of the Western and other media and such prism always distort what we stand for.
With PANA unable to fulfill its mandate Africa has continued to be portrayed as a continent of wars, diseases, deaths, famine, poverty and bad governance. Africa must urgently determine if it wants PANA to survive”.
The minister charged the management of the news agency to be more creative in its running of the agency as well as sourcing for alternative means of funding the organization.
“With dwindling resources of many African nations, it may no longer be feasible to revert to access contributions to run the agency. We must also be willing to look at the models in other climes and what can be borrowed from them”.
He called for the convening of a meeting of African information Ministers to deliberate on the issue of PANA.
PANA is a specialized agency of the defunct Organization of African Unity, OAU, and has its headquarters in Dakar, Senegal.
It was officially inaugurated and commenced news agency activities on 25 May, 1983.