The strides made by the media towards building a knowledge society in Africa and China will be assessed as the country hosts the High-Level China-Africa Media Cooperation Forum 2020 coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Focus will be on the impact of digitization on journalistic practice and regulatory issues in the media industry and how this has been navigated to improve media contribution in national development and improving professionalism in content creation.
Kenya was chosen to host the high level meeting because Kenyan media is on top level of Africa, with many vigorous and innovative media houses and high-level professionals.
Kenya has currently nearly 200 FMs, 92 television stations, 100 print and online publications and a very high internet and mobile phone penetration that are ideal for digital media.
The forum comes at no better time, as it will provide the opportunity to look at how media, is remodeling its viability plans in the face of challenges in revenue streams, safety of staff and coping in the COVID-19 era.
Most of the COVID-19 containment measures seemed to recommend the use of digital in news collection, management, sourcing and distribution, and for those yet to embrace digital technology, what are the opportunities and lessons, and how do they acquire it.
As a viability request, would for example, the government consider zero-rating taxes on digital tools used by the media, regulation of digital distribution of content and enhance media information and digital literacy programmes especially in education institutions to create responsible use of media content instead of reverting to draconian laws to regulate the digital space.
Media experts will deliver insightful presentations and panel sessions covering the impact of technology on media practice, shift in production and distribution of content in the digital era, professional ethics among others.
How are our media repositioning themselves in the converged newsgathering and production environment and how can they leverage of new normal to create the much needed knowledge economy.
The forum will bring together senior editors, media experts, journalists and policy makers in the industry from across Africa and China, is co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Kenya and the Media Council of Kenya (MCK).
The forum themed “China-Africa Media Cooperation in the Digital Era” is aimed at promoting China-Africa cooperation in the media sector by providing an opportunity for experience sharing, exploring models for long-term cooperation, providing technical support and capacity building in digitization of electronic media.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The FOCAC Summit usually happens every 3 year and Johannesburg hosted the Summit in Africa in 2015 and Beijing in 2018.
During the 2018 Beijing Summit and the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Heads of State and Government, Heads of Delegation, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers in charge of economic cooperation from China and 53 African countries reviewed with satisfaction the development of relations between China and Africa, and commended the Forum for advancing in-depth China-Africa cooperation across the board and leading and promoting international cooperation with Africa.
Under FOCAC action plan, its purposed to promote China-Africa cooperation in the field of media, including setting up a China-Africa media network, explore models for long-term cooperation, provide technical support and capacity building especially for the digitization of radio and TV.
China will hold training and capacity building seminars for African countries' media officials and journalists as well as provide technical support and personnel training for the digitization of radio and TV and the development of the industry in Africa.
The two sides will explore models for long-term cooperation, continue to participate in film and TV festivals and exhibitions held by the other side, and encourage joint production of documentaries, films and TV programmes.
In addition, the two continents will carry out cooperation on the publication of books in commonly used African languages, and organize Chinese publishing houses to participate in major African international book fairs among other things.
With the current changed media operating environment and efforts for media including in Kenya to tap the advantages of using the digital space as a viability option, what lessons can experts in the industry share and exchange for the benefit of the media in Africa and what can Governments do to assist media exploit the advantages that come with digitization? With most African countries having finished the digital migration especially for TV, are there any chances of allowing radio undertake digital migration, and what will be expected.
-Bwire works at the Media Council of Kenya as the Head of Media Development & Strategy