A media training programme designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of African journalists to help them better report on the extractive sector – oil, gas and mining industries has opened in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam.
Twenty-eight journalists drawn from Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania are participating in the training organized by Revenue Watch Institute and the Norwegian Church, a Dar es Salaam based civil society.
The participants are expected to, over the 10-day period, share experiences from the participating countries, interact with experts and through that gain insights into the “critical issues surrounding the exploitation, management and untilisation of oil, gas and mineral resources,” the organisers said.
Under the theme: Strengthening Media Oversight of the Extractive Sector, the training is also intended to help the journalists “develop or reinforce their knowledge and skills to stimulate and feed public debates on how best to ensure that the proceeds from these resources are used in the interest of your country and its citizens,” a training manual stated.
Many African countries are discovering significant oil and gas deposits but wealth from mineral resources have not always benefited the ordinary people, it is argued.
A combination of corruption by government officials and the exploitative tendencies of foreign firms coupled with the inability of journalists to hold the players accountable often result in wealth from particularly oil and gas benefitting the rich. The resources thus become a curse rather than a blessing.
This is precisely the reason the organizers say the training is critical.
In an introductory statement, Deodatus Mfungale of the Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania, challenged the journalists to determine for themselves if they stand for anything or they are just observers in their respective countries.
He said worthy journalists must not just be observers but must take active interest in what is happening in the country and protect the interest of the people.
Mr. Nick Phythian, a facilitator from the Thompson Reuters Foundation, said the participants must recognize some of the companies prospecting for oil, gas and minerals in Africa actually have higher turnovers than the budgets of the countries from where the resources are being tapped.
The companies, he said also have the expertise and experience in negotiating deals than the host governments with whom they negotiate.
It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for journalists to watch the negotiation process keenly, he maintained.
Some of the Ghanaian journalists participating in the training are the BBC’s Akwasi Sarpong, (formerly of Joy FM), Daily Graphic’s Moses Aklorbortu, Morkporkpor Anku of the Ghana News Agency and Emelia Ennin of the Daily Guide newspaper.
Fred Avornyo of Institute for ICT Journalism, Penplusbytes, and also formerly of Joy Business, is one of the facilitators.
Source: Joy Business
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