Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has described as a success the two-day SADC Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) and Postal Services Ministers’ meeting held in Lesotho’s capital Maseru.
The meeting, which ended on Friday, gave Ministers an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to improving communication in the region.
Minister Muthambi said they used the meeting as a platform to strengthen efforts to endorse communication that promotes the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to the world as a region with many economic opportunities.
“We are a peace-loving region… We want to encourage [reporting] that will unite the people of our region…
“As Ministers, we expressed our commitment to improving communication in the region through several legal and other enabling instruments such as the SADC Protocol on Culture, Information and Sports; the SADC Declaration on the Role of Information and SADC Declaration on Information and Communication Technologies.”
Minister Muthambi said SADC has been at the forefront of conflict resolution within some of its member states such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar, as well as in other regional blocs in East and West Africa. She said it is reporting on success stories like these that will help with the further development of the region.
The chairperson of the region’s Ministerial Committee responsible for public information, Christopher Dlangamandla, reiterated Minister Muthambi’s sentiments, saying the region has a lot of potential and the coverage of its development stories should be amplified.
Private radio stations in the region continue to grow and the use of local languages is gaining ground. Radio remains the most widely available medium for reaching the majority of citizens in the region.
Television is widely available in urban areas, with audiences using it for entertainment and news. With several countries now embracing opportunities offered by digital migration, citizens will enjoy more choices and access to diverse content.
Despite it not being an area of significant growth, print media remains an important vehicle for disseminating information, especially in urban areas. At least 19% of the SADC population read a newspaper once a week.
Like the rest of the world, SADC has experienced phenomenal growth in information and communication technologies, where mobile phones are now a critical communication window for the majority of citizens.
Reports published by Africa Barometer in 2009 – 2011 and World Stats reveal an increasing trend in internet usage through broadband and mobile phones within SADC as a region and Africa as a whole.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS