With the support of the intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), the UNESCO Harare Office, in concert with the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE), the University of Pretoria and the South African Government’s Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services organized a regional capacity building conference for African policy-makers.
The event, which attracted some 140 senior policy-makers representing 14 African countries across the continent and also including representatives of IFAP structures, UNESCO National Commissions and universities, was held from 26 to 27 March in South Africa, under the theme Information Ethics and Digital Opportunities.
In her message to conference participants, Ms Chafica Haddad, Chair of the IFAP Intergovernmental Council, underscored the importance of the conference and its key role in “creating a forum for regional policy dialogue, learning and reflection amongst policy makers to raise awareness, shape national strategies, foster regional cooperation and strengthen African nations in their effort to harness the opportunities of Knowledge Societies”.
Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, was the guest of honour and keynote speaker. In accepting a first edition of the newly published seven-volume toolkit on information ethics developed by the ACEIE, she commended the Center of Excellence on the tremendous progress that they had made since 2007, noting that “As South Africa rolls-out its broadband infrastructure towards 100% national penetration by 2020, information ethics is going to be our next challenge. This conference allows us to interrogate how we should use information ethics to defend our identities, cultures and traditions of Ubuntu (doing good to others)”. The Deputy Minister also recognized the contribution that UNESCO and IFAP have provided through their ongoing support.
Ms Menesia Muinjo of the Namibian Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) remarked that “This event is giving participants an opportunity to learn from one another in terms of how to coordinate IFAP activities in their respective countries and particularly to implement IFAP objectives based on existing partnerships, as long as the work is done. What is coming out is that a lot is being done in terms of the IFAP pillars, but these need to be efficiently synergized and packaged as country positions.”
Hezekiel Dlamini, Communication and Information Adviser at the UNESCO Harare Regional Office opined that, ”To achieve the ideal goal of safe-access-to-information or access-to-safe-information, will take leadership at the political, social, academic and other levels to address the current and emerging ethical issues of the information society in order to create the much needed trust in our digital world.”
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks.
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