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Page added on March 23, 2013
Every now and then, accusing fingers are being pointed at the Western media regarding what most people described as biased reportage on issues revolving around Sub-Saharan states. This is because the Western media are perceived to mostly report issues related to conflicts, human rights abuses, endemic corruption and unmitigated catastrophes within the region. Despite several achievements made with regards to infrastructural development and sustained economic growth in most African countries, coverages on those issues remain inconsistent and rare on the front pages of the Western media. (Photo: Ambassador to Germany, H.E Jongopie Siaka Stevens strategizing the way forward)
Efforts made by many African countries to move their respective countries off the ground are enormous and exemplary, hence the need for effective use of the media, which serve as an educational tool to adequately inform the general public about such issues. However, the lack of interest by the Western Media in that respect seems to be slowly diminishing into thin air. Reports about the region’s quest to enhance economic growth through improved governance systems and socio-economic development are slowly becoming an appetizing discourse within and outside the continent. This is evident in most popular broadcasts of the Voice of American (VOA) television and the BBC World Service. It is now extending further to widely read newspapers and magazines meant for business executives, experts from the donor world and top ranking government officials whose influence in development oriented programmes within the African region is robust and undeniable.
In a recent publication of The Economist, a-weekly news and international affairs publication, Africa was singled out as a hopeful continent with emphasis on how the lives of its people have already improved and transcended its economic barriers to a booming industry. This has created a significant shift in the face of Western criticisms about Africa, where the struggle for democracy was a sinqua-non. Similarly, Dominic Johnson, a well known German news editor for African affairs described the continent in his book titled “Afrika vor dem großen Sprung,” meaning Africa before the big jump. He named economically growing countries as African Lions. In a literal sense, the author is comparing these African countries to those called the Asian tigers, used to refer to the highly developed economies of Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. These are all indications that Africa’s rise, according to The Economist, is ‘beyond hype.’
Among these African states whose extraordinary efforts have become an international discourse is Sierra Leone – a small country within the African region. Under the esteemed leadership of its leader, Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone has made significant progress within a period preceded by economic duress, mismanagement and endemic corruption by past governments. When the people decided to elect a leader with a vision to transform the country’s battered economy and to enhance infrastructural development, a glimmer of hope ushered into the minds of the people.
The country that a UNDP´s Human Development Index once ranked as one of the least developed countries in the world with a position of 177 out of 187 countries, has witnessed enormous progress. Koroma’s excellent performance during his first tenure in office beats the imagination of many critics who had thought otherwise. He did not only work hard to better the lives of his people through sustained economic growth, he went further to establish formidable structures to enhance good governance and equitable distribution of state resources. This is why his re-election for a second term was as easy as swallowing “foofoo and okra” as we say in our local Krio parlance. These admirable efforts coupled with various achievements have succeeded in attracting the attention of not only the international community, but also Western media who, over the past showed little or no interest in reporting issues about Sierra Leone especially when it comes to marketing the country’s dazzling and dangling records.
Therefore, it came as no surprise when a leading global communications agency in Germany – Star Communications – has registered interest in propagating Sierra Leone’s investment potentials and efforts made by President Koroma in transforming the country. The agency has decided to send a team of experts to Sierra Leone to undertake an independent and critical assessment with regards to the reality on the ground. This will be done through conducting interviews with President Koroma and various Ministers of Government.
The outcome of their report will be published in a leading national daily newspaper and online medium – Handelsblatt, which is frequently read by the top decision makers in Germany. It is widely known to be a key information medium operating in a country like Germany, which has the largest national economy across Europe. A representative of Star Communications for Handelsblatt, Sue Brophy, said her agency’s objective is to ensure that the peace consolidation and smooth transition of governance in Sierra Leone and the country’s economic potential remain an important public discourse, thus warranting the need for effective dissemination to attract international audience. Ms. Brophy who has been regularly in touch with Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Germany, H.E Jongopie Siaka Stevens and the Information Minister, Hon. Alpha Kanu, had this to say:
“After peaceful elections with the new Cabinet in place, it is the right time to let the world, and particularly potential investors, know about what is happening in Sierra Leone. In our report, we will study the good relations between Sierra Leone and Germany and business opportunities for German investors. We will discuss matters such as the ‘Agenda for Change’ introduced by President Koroma to make an effective and sustainable transformation of the country as well as areas ripe for investments such as agriculture, infrastructure and energy. We will also look at the measures introduced to stamp out corruption and make the economy more transparent, consolidating the country’s reputation as having a welcoming and attractive investment climate.”
She believed that an in-depth study on Sierra Leone will be of great interest to the readers of Handelsblatt, given the opportunities present to potential investors and the subsequent economic prosperity of the country.
The award winning Handelsblatt is as popular as the British Financial Times and the US Wall Street Journal. According to Ms Brophy, the newspaper reaches an average audience of 300,000 decision-makers while the online version has approximately two million readers. This is why the agency thought it fit that Sierra Leone should be among the many countries featured in such an important, credible and widely read news medium.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Hon Alpha Kanu has given his unflinching support in coordinating with his colleague ministers to ensure that the team accomplishes its work.
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