Liveblogging Highway Africa

I’ve managed to get wifi access here at Rhodes University for the Highway Africa conference, so will try to liveblog a few sessons. I’ve already met up with many familiar faces and colleagues, which is always pleasant.

Dali Mpofu, the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Group Chief Executive is giving the keynote address now; he was introduced in addition to an impressive resume, as a ‘techie’.

Mpofu says he feels uncomfortable talking to African journalists about their own craft, compounded by the fact that the book he’s reading was written by another one of the conference participants, Francis Nyamjo (sp?).

The digital divide is something that must be confronted head-on, but without arrogance, he said. Investments in SABC infrastructure in preparation for the World Cup in 2010 will be extremely expensive, but will allow for numerous possibilities down the road. They have to make sure technologies are prioritized even within SABC; it’s an example of the digital divide internally within the organization.

Rules for journalism must be made to conform with African reality; they may not necessarily serve well in an African setting. Examining them and putting them in an African perspective is extremely necessary. The assumptions of the values that come with ‘professional’ journalism – even the fact that he’s giving his address in English – must be examined.

Splitting SABC into separate channels without efforts to source content locally, and to provide local content, will mean it will not be different from CNN or Sky. Technologically and otherwise, SABC’s advantage must not mean it impresses its view onto the rest of Africa.

Preparing for WSIS in Tunisia is another area for discussion. Areas of collaboration where ‘indigenization’ can take place in training and skills transfer.

The 2010 World Cup raises questions for African media. One of these is how can the ‘African World Cup’ and the experience, be a truly African experience? Why is the World Cup in June 2010? Why June? June in Europe is summer, but in South Africa, it’s winter. Fans will freeze in the stadiums. Why haven’t Africans said the ideal time to have the World Cup would be in September or October?

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