Economists and journalists will this week join forces in a new project aimed at improving economic policy across Africa. The project, called Africa Means Business (AMB), will be launched at a one-day conference at Nairobi's Strathmore Business School on Wednesday the 2nd of May from 8.30 am.
The aim is to raise standards of business and economic reporting, and provoke policy debate, by improving the flow of information about economic research in the media.
By the end of 2013, a total of 64 influential journalists and economists from Kenya and Ghana will take part in workshops where the economists will learn from journalists how to get their message into the media, and journalists will develop a better understanding of how to report economic issues. If it's successful, the aim is to widen the project to other African countries.
The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation but was conceived by local and international partners, including the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), Oxford University's Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), the Thomson Media Foundation (TMF) and the Wincott Foundation. Strathmore University and the University of Ghana, Legon, have been recruited as partners to act as training hubs to host the workshops.
AMB will be launched at Wednesday's conference by Dr Henry Chakava, doyen of African publishing and winner of Prince Claus Award, and will be closed by Dr Bitange Ndemo, Kenya's permanent secretary for information and communication, who is a trained economist. The keynote speaker will be Prof Paul Collier, director CSAE, and former director of development research at the World Bank. His best-seller, "The Bottom Billion", highlights the economic crisis facing around 50 states which are home to the world's poorest people.
Other speakers include William Lyakurwa, the executive director of AERC; Sir Geoffrey Owen, former editor, Financial Times, and chairman, Wincott Foundation; MahatSomane, Fellow, Harvard Law School; Clive Wafukho, founder and CEO, Ivory Consult; OchiengRapuro, managing editor of Kenya's premier Business Daily;RocksonDogbegah, founder and CEO, Rockson Ventures, Ghana; Carole Mandi, publisher, True Love and Drum; Dr X. N Iraki, economist, University of Nairobi, and business columnist, Standard; and Dr Levi Obonyo, head of communication studies, Daystar University, and chairman, Media Council of Kenya.
Nigel Baker, CEO of the project's managing partner, Thomson Media Foundation, said: "It's important economists know how to get their message into the public sphere, and journalists know how to translate economic research data into stories understood by the general public. The result should be a greater understanding of how to hold governments to account on policy issues."
Dr George Njenga, Strathmore University's deputy vice-chancellor in charge of research and quality assurance, considers the partnership between the university and Thomson Media Foundation a key milestone in establishing an international centre of excellence in Kenya to provide world-class training in financial and business journalism for the African continent.