By: Paul Mamattah
The Ministry of Information in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has initiated a media capacity enhancement and certification programme on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for journalists at Aburi in the Eastern region.
This is to strengthen the media through mentorship and content to engage with the agreement, to inform the public, and more importantly to shape how Ghana leverages the agreement in their storytelling skills.
The capacity enhancement programme was on the theme; “Equipping the Media to Report on AfCFTA” was aimed at equipping journalists with the needed skills to interpret and report accurately and position them to effectively advocate on the AfCFTA for businesses to explore all opportunities towards sustainable development.
It also sought to improve journalists’ knowledge, mentorship and content to advocate on how Ghanaians can leverage AfCFTA to expand access to continental and international markets.
Speaking at the media training programme, the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Herbert Krapa, opined that AfCFTA is Africa’s most ambitious integration initiative and the largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
This, according to him, has created a single market for goods and services, facilitated by movement of persons and deepens the economic integration of the African continent, in accordance with the Pan African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
It will enhance movement of capital and natural persons, and facilitate investments.
Mr Krapa noted that the AfCTFA, will expedite the competitiveness of the economies of state parties within the continent and the global market at large and will promote sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development, gender equality and structural transformation of state parties.
He reiterated that it will further promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security and ultimately lay the foundations for the establishment of a continental customs union.
Africa’s free trade area holds the potential to advance equitable development for all of Africa’s people.
Mr Krapa was optimistic that it addresses the challenges of small fragmented markets, adds value to Africa’s abundant natural resources, provides a boost in intra-Africa trade and eventually promotes economic diversification and industrialisation.
He stated the media has an important role to play if the implementation of the AfCFTA is to succeed and therefore charged the media to collaborate with the government in that endeavor for businesses and SMEs to realize their full potential.
The Deputy Minister, also tasked the media to create opportunities for businesses to provide input into the implementation of the agreement as they share lessons from their own experiences and regularly review the extent to which the country is engaging to implement the AfCFTA.
Commenting on the National-Multilateral trade policy links, Mr Krapa, urged participants to probe and analyse the relationship between AfCFTA trade rules and national trade policy challenges.
On Accessible analysis, he stated that the media have a duty to make complex policy processes and issues about AfCFTA intelligible for target audiences, constantly explaining technical language and jargon.
Touching on Development perspective and poverty reduction, the deputy minister, also encouraged the media to focus on the link between trade and development opportunities and barriers, and the implications of AfCFTA for poverty reduction.
The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Dr Angela Lusiga, noted that the AfCFTA represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform Africa’s economic landscape and shared prosperity through trade.
She said UNDP is committed to ensuring that the AfCFTA implementation is localized, and the benefits accrue to all, particularly women and youth adding that they will partner with the National Development Planning Commission to mainstream the AfCFTA in local plans, budgets, and financing frameworks.
“We are also supporting initiatives to track the impact of Covid-19 on MSMEs and accelerate their recovery. Our focus is on ensuring that women and youth led businesses are often left behind and are positioned to thrive under the AfCFTA. This is because, we see the AfCFTA as a catalyst for inclusive structural transformation in Ghana and Africa as a whole”. She added.
Dr Angela Lusiga stated that in order to help businesses to recover from Covid-19 by participating effectively in the AfCFTA, there is the need to ensure that firms receive up to date information on business opportunities through the AfCFTA and must also facilitate their access to knowledge about regulatory tools, instruments, and financing to harness these opportunities.
She noted that the media is an important bridge between policymakers, the public, national and regional institutions driving AfCFTA implementation saying; “you are the gateway to enabling businesses and the public to better understand and leverage the benefits that the AfCFTA offers”.
She pointed out that the media have an important role to play in advocating for and influencing the policies and additional investments required to make the AfCFTA work for all.
She noted that the training was an important first step in closing the AfCFTA knowledge gap and to improve the understanding of the AfCFTA agreement by creating a vibrant network of media practitioners.
She assured that the UNDP will also provide up to date content to help engage Ghanaian businesses and the public in order to leverage the agreement to expand access to continental markets, regional value chains, create jobs, and advance Ghana’s industrialization agenda.
Dr. Angela Lusiga, was hopeful that the AfCFTA has the potential to contribute to a green, inclusive and resilient Covid-19 recovery across Africa and help put the continent back on track of the SDGs.
On his part, the Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, stressed that the media industry is one that has little support hence the media capacity programme.
He urged development partners and the private sector to support the media to enhance capacity building and safety of the media practitioners in the country.
Mr Nkrumah again stated that 250 selected journalists are to benefit from a Media Capacity Enhancement Programme annually adding that the programme is facilitated by the Ministry of Information.
He said this will provide continuous in-service training for media personnel drawn from across the country in order to improve their skills for the industry.
The minister, reiterated that it was in line with one of the key strategic objectives of the Ministry which is to assist in the development of the information sector to transform Ghana’s media landscape.
He entreated participants to embrace the media capacity enhancement programme with the seriousness and vigor it deserves.
Participants at the training were awarded with certificates for participation.