By Charles Mkoka, Johannesburg, South Africa

The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) an implementing arm of the African Union Commission (AUC) on Monday launched the Africa Media Network on Agenda 2063 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Agenda 2063 is a continental blue print and master plan agreed by African leaders in 2015 to transform Africa through infrastructure development and innovation come the next 50 years.

Speaking at the launch Leslie Richer, Director of Information and Communication at the AUC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia emphasized on the role of the media and more importantly toengage an extra gear towards specialized reporting in order to effectively communicate continental interventions in the fields of agriculture, environment and energy for instance as subject matter specialists.

“There has to be willingness among journalists as advocates for change. This change can be in knowledge and subject as specialist practitioners. This will capacitate them to be interrogators and follow up through policy and implementation, if at all a project has impact then it has relevance too,” said Richer in her speech.

Richer added that the media should create linkages beyond town, cities and rural areas to ensure unserved and unheard communities are taken on board. She also hinted on the need to verify the sources of data before publishing adding this is of paramount importance. “We cannot manage what we cannot measure.” She said.

Taking his turn, Ibrahim Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer said Agenda 2063 framework allows us to thinks clearly about the future.

Once this framework is domesticated we can move together. He stressed on the need to moved together and ensure regional integration.

Africa is a fragmented continent in 55 countries said Mayaki. Most of our boundaries are deficient, remember when we came out of independence.

The Organization of African Union set a principal which is the in-touchability of the boundaries inherited from colonization.

Because if we started touching these boundary the whole continent will be in war. So that principal had to be maintained, not only to strengthen post colonial era but also to ensure we didn’t run into guerilla or wars.

“If I am a Togolese or a Malawian and I aspire to have a higher access to energy in rural areas and I planned only nationally. I will never attain the objective; I am looking for. So the attainment of our objectives in terms of development whether it is infrastructure, nutrition or education has to be regional and not national level because we are too fragmented and cannot take advantage of economies of scale.

“So that value of regional integration goes beyond the philosophy of pan-Africanism. It is an economic issue that can help solve our national problems,” he responded to questions during plenary..

Agenda 2063 has seven aspirations for the African continent top being a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.

In a related development as part of inching towards 2063 vision, in March 2018, 44 of the 55 African Union Heads of State and Government enacted the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (Fact) in Kigali, Rwanda at its 10th extraordinary session, under the able leadership of H.E. President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, with H.E. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda as current AU Chairperson and H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission.

Once in force AfCFTA will be the largest trade zone in the world, increase intra-African trade by 52% by the year 2022, remove tariffs on 90% of goods, liberalise services and tackle other barriers to intra-African trade, such as long delays at border posts wrote Mayaki in a recent article after the signing ceremony.