Communications Minister Faith Muthambi says SADC member states have committed to funding their own information and communication infrastructure programme in order to achieve the objective of promoting SADC to the world as a region with many economic opportunities.
The Minister was speaking at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) and Postal Services Ministers’ meeting in the Lesotho capital of Maseru on Friday.
“We agreed to a proposal that as SADC member states, we need to contribute towards the funding of information and communication infrastructure both at national and regional level in order to enhance the promotion of international understanding, stability, peaceful co-existence, reconciliation, human rights and democratic ideals,” she said.
Minister Muthambi said it was important for the region to strengthen its self-reliance in order for it to break the “cycle of slow economic growth and poverty” and to generate “media coverage that will attract more investors to the region”.
“… What is important for us as the SADC region is to view communication as a means of conveying information rather than a policy tool… With the rapid changes in technology, which are already offering us cheaper and more effective ways to communicate with more people, it is possible to fund our own communication programme,” she said.
Minister Muthambi said a 2005 report by the International Monetary Fund highlighted the need for Africa to rely on itself and ease the dependence on donor funding.
She said Ministers at the meeting agreed to work together to improve regional cooperation and promote responsible reporting.
“We’ve also agreed to increase the publication of information to the world through enhancing our relations with media houses in the region, continent and the world as that will help us to explain the SADC vision and objectives to civil society as well as to get feed to improve,” she said.
Minister Muthambi said the region has developed sound infrastructure for both communication and transport, and that SADC member states in general have witnessed an improvement in media freedom.
“Media houses in most member states are increasingly vibrant and diverse, and there are strong regional media associations. The revolution in the information landscape in SADC merits innovation in the way SADC communicates with its citizens and facilitates communication between citizens,” she said.
Minister Muthambi’s sentiments were echoed by her Namibian counterpart, Minister Tjekero Tweya. He said SADC member states had to rely on each other to achieve the goal of improving communication in the region.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS