Nana Kwasi Gyan Apenteng, the President of ACRAN, said there was the need for the organisation to begin to envisage for now and the future a comprehensive plan of engagement with the entire continent.
“Given the ease with which information is transmitted into all our countries from single sources, it is important to begin to harmonise our rules and procedures in order to be able to take advantage of Africa’s huge potential as a single information and communication market,” Nana Gyan-Apenteng said on Tuesday in his opening remarks at the ACRAN Steering Committee Meeting under biennium 2017-2018 in Accra.
“This is a task ACRAN can work on in Africa. I am sure that we will use the opportunity wisely,” Nana Gyan-Apenteng added.
He noted that given the role of the media in society and the complexity of the impact of the media today, it was important for media regulators to engage frequently with their constituent populations and stakeholders in order to ensure that the aspirations of the public and the purposes of regulation were in sync.
He said despite the challenges, the regulator in each country and collectively in ACRAN must strive for ever greater legitimacy and relevance through updating their strategies and relying on the democratic will of the people as their guide.
He said the absence of good and equitable regulation undermined freedom; declaring that good regulations were not a threat to freedom.
He said Ghana could claim to be the home of pan-Africanism in Africa; stating that “Ghana’s first President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah declared that the independence of Ghana would be meaningless without the total independence and unity of the continent”.
He said: “Today, we see the fulfillment of that aspiration in the unity of purpose of all our institutions and endeavours across the country. It is the spirit of the quest for the total unity of purpose that African media regulators came together 19 years ago to form this organization.”
“Today, we applaud the bold initiative of our forebears who took that bold and visionary step in Libreville, Gabon in 1998. From its inception the organization has sought to enhance the enjoyment of our public freedoms, especially the freedom of expression, as the cardinal principle and raison d’etre of its existence,” he added.
He said the organisation was born in the early excitement of the wave of democratization in Africa in the late 20th century.
“With democratization came the need to set firm and equitable rules to guide the opening up of spaces for the media. It was important that the new openness should afford opportunities to all our citizens and become agents for democracy, economic development, the realization of pan-African ideals and social justice in Africa,” he said.
“Today, nearly 20 years after the launching of our organization new challenges have emerged even as we still confront some of the old ones.”
Nana Gyan-Apenteng, who is also the Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), said technological, economic, political and social changes continue to expand the frontiers of the media and therefore of media regulation; stating that “in some cases, regulation is playing catch up to the reality on the ground”.
He said it was in light of these rapid challenging changes that the NMC with the support of the Fredrich Ebert Foundation and the National Communications Agency had decided to organize a two-day conference next week in Accra on the challenges of content policy in the wake of the digital migration.
Mr Peter Essoka, Vice President of ACRAN and President of the National Communication Council of Cameroun, said there was the need for all media regulatory authorities in Africa to come together and have a common policy direction for the industry.