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Over 600 delegates to attend Rhodes Highway Africa conference

Date Released: Thu, 6 September 2012 14:59 +0200

More than 600 delegates consist of journalists and heads of media houses from the African continent and beyond are expected to attend the 16th edition of Highway Africa conference at Rhodes University from 9 to 11 September.

Also expected to be present are media and civil society organizations and corporate representatives. Academics and civil society members from China, India and South Africa will attend panel discussions.

The annual conference dubbed Highway Africa is a Media and Information Communication Technology event, focusing on the impact of the internet and mobile technologies on journalism and media, ICT policy and issues related to the media and democracy. It is organised and hosted by the Rhodes School of Journalism and Media Studies.

The President of The African Editors Forum (TAEF), Mr Cheriff Sy, who is based in Ouagadougou and the Chair of the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF), Mr Mondli Makhanya, from Johannesburg, will grace the conference and also attend TAEF and SANEF meetings that will take place during the conference.

The conference theme Africa Rising - How the media frames the continents politics, trade and growth speaks to the role of the media in reporting the continent holistically, growth of the continent and dispelling the ‘Dark Continent’ notion that has haunted it for years.

With the financial meltdown in Europe and North America, and the emergence of super powers in the East like China, investments patterns and development collaborations with Africa have changed. The China-Africa relationship is bringing about dynamic trade partnerships and renewed possibilities to the ‘Hope that is Africa’.

Explaining this years’ theme and how the media frames the continents issues such as trade and economic growth, Director of Highway Africa, Mr Chris Kabwato said in 2000, The Economist made the famous headline: “The Hopeless Continent”, and yet in 2011 the same magazine had a screaming cover headline “Africa Rising”.

“Our question is what has changed between 2000 and 2012? A lot you would say when looking the average economic growth rate of 6% for the continent, the emergence of a solid middle class (over 300 million) and the evident technological boom,” said Mr Kabwato.

“But how the African journalists are viewing all these changes is a key question requiring urgent and serious thinking and deliberation? Let’s hear what they and others have to say,” he added.

Along with the theme, is a series of seminars that will examine the emergence of the BRICS countries and the effect this has had on African media.

Deputy Head of School and Chair of Highway Africa Steering Committee, Professor Herman Wasserman will convene the seminar series entitled: The Rise of the Rest: Journalism in the BRICS countries. Other issues that will be discussed includes Africa Rising? The emerging picture, Media and Civil Rights and Why media really matters: The case for impact on development sectors.

The conference provides journalists, civil society and diplomats a platform to interrogate how African journalism and the media have framed the radical changes in the global political and economic architecture, focusing particularly in Africa.

This year, Highway Africa will partner with the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD).This partnership results in a diverse delegation and discussions, bringing together African and global journalists and media development voices and players to unpack the African story, its developing economies, in the process paving a  way forward to better let the world know of Africa’s ‘light’.

The Highway Africa conference was launched in 1997 and over the years it has grown to become the largest annual gathering of African journalists on the continent.