The Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mr. Edetaen Ojo, has been elected to serve on the inaugural Steering Committee of the African Media Convention (AMC) which was established within the framework of the World Press Freedom Day spearheaded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a platform for media professionals and other practitioners, civil society organizations, governments, academia, and media development partners to co-create, collaborate and coordinate strategic ways to enable and promote responsive and impactful media in Africa.
This development follows the committee’s formation during the continental commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, which took place in Lusaka, Zambia in May 2023.
Under this framework, the AMC Steering Committee has received a mandate and clear terms of reference approved by the AMC stakeholders in May 2023.
Furthermore, three standing committees will be formed from July 2023 to oversee the editorial process for the AMC’s annual reports, monitor and evaluate the implementation of declarations, and support the local planning and hosting committee for the annual AMC.
Following the decision made during the initial meeting, additional members will be co-opted into the Steering Committee to ensure regional and gender balance, which are crucial for its success.
Lydia Gachungi, Regional Adviser on Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists at the UNESCO Liaison Office to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, stated that: “We are delighted to announce the successful election of the inaugural office bearers, including the chairperson, convener, secretary, assistant secretary, and its advisor.”
The nine-member Steering Committee is made up of experts from diverse professional backgrounds who bring on board wealths of expertise, experience, and commitment to the Africa Media Convention. They will play a pivotal role in carrying forward and ensuring the resolutions made at each year’s convention are implemented, shaping the annual convention’s agenda, fostering collaboration among media professionals. In addition to steering forward the AMC’s mission of advancing media excellence and innovation across the continent as well as providing strategic direction and innovative programmes to reinvigorate and sustain impactful media in Africa.
The elected officials of the Steering Committee and the stakeholder groups they represent are as follows:
- Chairperson: Mr. Churchill Otieno – Representing the Africa Editors Forum (TAEF), Mr. Otieno is a prominent journalist with 22 years of experience in digital media. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Eastern Africa Editors Society (EAES) and has previously held positions such as President of the Kenya Editors’ Guild and Managing Editor for Digital at Nation Media Group. With his expertise as a media innovator and experienced newsroom leader, Mr. Otieno will contribute significantly to the committee’s objectives.
- Vice Chairperson: Ms. Susan Makore – Representing female journalists in Africa, Ms. Makore is the Director for Advisory and Insights at WAN-IFRA Women in News. She brings extensive experience in leading media businesses, including her previous role as CEO at AC Communications in Zimbabwe. Currently involved in a transformative program for media digitalization across Africa, Ms. Makore will provide valuable insights to the committee.
- Secretary: Mr. Pa Louis Thomasi – Representing African journalists, Mr. Thomasi is a celebrated Gambian journalist. He currently serves as the Director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Africa Office and the Head of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) Secretariat in Dakar, Senegal. With his sixteen years of experience in information, communication, advocacy, and human rights, Mr. Thomasi will make significant contributions to the committee’s activities.
- Assistant Secretary: Ms. Josephine Karani – Also representing female journalists in Africa, Ms. Karani is a board member of the International Association of Women in Radio and TV (IAWRT), where she also serves as the treasurer. With over three decades of experience as a career broadcast journalist, including roles as chief producer and former Head of the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit (PBU), Ms. Karani will bring her expertise in editorial content and media production to the committee.
- Steering Committee Technical Advisor: Mr. Edetaen Ojo – Representing Civil Society, Mr. Ojo is the Chair of the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) and the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda in Lagos. He also serves on the Board of Directors of International Media Support (IMS) and the Advisory Network of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC).
- Steering Committee Member: Prof. George Nyabuga – Representing Academia in Africa, Prof. Nyabuga is currently an Associate Professor of Media and Journalism at The Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media and Communications. He coordinates the Executive Masters in Media Leadership and Innovation (EMMLI) program and has previously held academic positions at the University of Nairobi School of Journalism, as well as in the United Kingdom.
- Steering Committee Member: Alfred Nkuru Bulakali – Representing Civil Society in Africa, Mr. Bulakali is a lawyer by profession and currently serves as the Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 West Africa. He has dedicated approximately 20 years to peacebuilding, governance, human rights, women empowerment, media, and research programs in Africa and Asia.
The Steering Committee also has two Co-Conveners:
- Ms. Wynne Musabayana – Representing the African Union, Ms. Musabayana is the Head of Communication at the African Union Commission. With her wealth of experience in corporate communications and the broadcast media, she is dedicated to redefining the African narrative under Agenda 2063. She has organized and conducted media capacity building programs across the continent and will advance the African Union’s mandate on freedom of expression, access to information, and capacity building of the African media.
- Ms. Lydia Gachungi – Representing UNESCO, Ms. Gachungi is the Regional Adviser on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists at the UNESCO Liaison Office to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Ethiopia. With over 20 years of experience supporting media development in AU member states, she will play a key role in the committee’s efforts.
In July, the Steering Committee will actively engage in the planning of the third African Media Convention, scheduled for May 2024. This convention will be hosted in partnership with the Ghana Journalists Association and the local organizing committee.
For more information on the African Media Convention, please visit the following links: https://au.int/en/2ndAMC and https://en.unesco.org/news/zambia-hosts-2nd-african-media-convention-shaping-future-rights. To get in touch with the AMC Steering Committee, you can contact the following individuals: Churchill Otieno (Chairperson), email@example.com; Lydia Gachungi (Co-convener), firstname.lastname@example.org; and Faith Adhiambo (Co-convener and Communication Officer, African Union Commission): OchiengJ@africa-union.org