Fascinated by the idea, many of you have requested information on the meetings of former African presidents. Thanks to Abdul Bemath in South Africa, I have a set of three important documents below. In addition, you can also look for The State of Africa Report, a 200 page report of 13 African countries focusing on development issues. A soft copy is available at . www.bu.edu/aparc.
His Excellency Sir Ketumile Masire
Former President of Botswana
His Excellency Joaquim Chissano,
Former President of the Republic of Mozambique
On behalf of
The former African heads of state
Participating in the
AFRICAN PRESIDENTIAL ROUNDTABLE 2005
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Johannesburg, South Africa
Friday, April 8, 2005
Members of the Press,
This has been an enormously productive day. There have been two primary areas of focus for our deliberations - a briefing on the Commission for Africa Report and discussions about Africa's image in the American media. Both are matters of critical importance to Africa's continued growth and development.
Relative to the work of the Commission for Africa, we want to commend Prime Minister Tony Blair for launching this initiative and Commissioner Trevor Manuel and others that committed themselves to this process. After having read and been briefed on the report we have a couple of observations. The Report is comprehensive in scope, as it does acknowledge strategies put forward by others, and indicates that its work needs to be viewed as a part of a broader effort to revitalize the continent. There is no single solution (or initiative) that will bring about Africa's renewal. The Millenium Challenge Goals, AGOA, and most importantly NEPAD and the work of the African Union are critical to the continent's hoped for renaissance.
Furthermore, we would also like to punctuate a question raised within the report and that is: "where does the money come from" to advance the recommendations contained in the Report. Nations of the G8 must step up to the plate. It is the responsible and right thing to do. It is the responsible thing to do because Africa continues to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of development. It is the right thing to do because Africa has driven the growth and development of the rest of the world for centuries. Historically, Africa has been central to the global economy - from providing the slave labor that developed the new world and enriched the old world to providing Col-Tan, the essential mineral in making the computer chips necessary to drive this 21st century high tech global economy. Africa's importance to global commerce and development is unquestionable, the issue is will Africa ever benefit from its contribution to the global economy as much as the world benefits from that contribution.
Africa's turn is long overdue!
The other focus of our deliberations was Africa's image in the America media. This has profound relevance to everything from the world seeing Africa as a worthy investment venue to tourism to Africa being viewed as a valuable trading partner.
Today, we call on the media to be more fair and balanced in its coverage of Africa. We spent a good part of the day examining the record of coverage of some America's most distinguished publications - The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and US News & World Report. We reviewed their coverage of the continent over a 10-year period - from 1994 to 2004. We found their coverage of the continent to be anything but fair and balanced. For example, here in South Africa (under the leadership of the present government and that led by Nelson Mandela, this country has had the longest period of sustained economic growth in its history. That story has yet to be told in the detail in which South Africa's problems are covered.
The record of coverage of other parts of the continent is equally abysmal. One of the more notable areas of progress on the continent over the last ten years has been in the area of education, yet, it was the smallest category covered with only 20 articles. APARC's State of Africa Report 2003 highlighted some of the noteworthy achievements in education: a literacy rate in Botswana of 90 percent, the enrollment of an additional 1.7 million children in primary education in Kenya, the rise of persons in teaching training colleges in Ghana to 8,500 from a low of 6,000 in the year 2000, and the construction of more than 600 new classrooms over that past year in Malawi.  These, or similar gains from 1994 to 2004, were not reported in the more than 2,700 articles surveyed from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, or US News & World Report.
The findings of this (and other) surveys indicate that coverage of Africa, by the leading sources of American media, is, at best, dismissive of the continent's progress and potential, and thus leading to continued "exotification" and marginalization of the African continent. At worst, coverage disregards recent trends toward democratization, betraying an almost contemptuous lack of interest in the potential and progress being achieved on the continent. Underneath the present major American media coverage are buried stories of untold and unpublished growth, reform and sustainability. While this survey was not intended to establish a causal relationship between perceptions about Africa and the preponderance of negative coverage of the continent's democracies, it is logical and reasonable to conclude that there is such a correlation between negative coverage and negative perceptions. Furthermore, it is reasonable to posit that negative perceptions lead to negative outcomes, viz. lower levels of aid and lower levels of investment. This area is so important I would like to highlight three recommendations coming out of our deliberations:
ß African countries, and institutions like the African Union, need to develop a set of strategies to counter the negative media portrayal of Africa. Included among the initiatives that should be considered are (i) developing alternative mediums through which to tell Africa's story, (ii) developing a multimedia campaign to counter Africa's negative image in the western press, and (iii) developing a strategy for engaging major media outlets, like those identified in the survey we reviewed, in order to encourage more fair and balanced coverage of the continent.
ß A plan should be devised to encourage more American NGOs and non-commercial media forums to create new paradigms for training Western and African journalists covering emerging African democracies.
ß A strategy must be developed to encourage leading American schools of journalism and journalism organizations to develop specific tracks for covering emerging economies and developing democracies, particularly in Africa.
We raise this concern about how Africa is covered not because we don't appreciate the need for a critical and skeptical press as a guarantor of democracy. Our complaint is the skeptical and critical coverage does not have to be cynical. Our point is simple, tell Africa's whole story. The problems in African countries deserve to be brought under the light of public scrutiny; but the continent's progress and potential also deserve to see the light of day.
Contact: Mary-Mildred Stith, 082-858-1004 or Shirona Hassim- 084-619-2646
AFRICAN PRESIDENTIAL ARCHIVES AND
The African Presidential Roundtable 2005
An Initiative of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center
In April 2005, the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University (APARC) will continue to make history as we host the third summit of former African heads of state in Johannesburg, South Africa and at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. The Roundtable 2005, semi-public and private in nature, will focus on attracting business and increasing capital flows to Africa.
Eleven (11) former African heads of state have committed to participating thus far:
… Nicéphore D. Soglo of Benin;
… Sir Q. Ketumile J. Masire of Botswana;
… Pierre Buyoya of Burundi;
… António Mascarenhas Monteiro of Cape Verde;
… Aristides Maria Pereira of Cape Verde;
… Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings of Ghana;
… Daniel arap Moi of Kenya;
… Karl Auguste Offmann of Mauritius;
… Joaquim Alberto Chissano of Mozambique;
… Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania; and
… Dr. Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia.
These former leaders feel strongly that the African Presidential Roundtable represents an opportunity to reach a significant number of key individuals and institutions that can directly impact the development of Africa. Along with these leaders will be student and faculty participants representing five universities as part of the APARC American - African Universities Collaborative: the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa; the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania; the University of Ghana at Legon; Morehouse College in Atlanta; and Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. In addition, John Hamill, Chairman and CEO of Sovereign Bank, has agreed to chair the Host Committee for the black tie dinner honoring the former African heads of state in Boston. The dinner will be held on April 13, 2005 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We feel that this venue offers great symmetry to what we are trying to achieve with the African Presidential Roundtable 2005.
The African Presidential Roundtable 2005 is scheduled to convene in Johannesburg on April 8th and continue in Boston on April 12th - 13th. The main objectives of the Roundtable 2005 are to:
i. Build upon the two previous African Presidential Roundtable summits by providing a sustainable, credible forum for former democratically elected African heads of state to convene around issues that impact U.S.-Africa relations;
ii. Engage the international community and increase awareness of issues relative to capital formation, free market reform, and good governance in Africa;
iii. Ensure continuity in the involvement of African leadership in the work of APARC.
Convening the Roundtable 2005 in Africa reinforces APARC's objectives in that it:
i. Validates and highlights Africa's current leadership and African nations' commitment to democracy and free market reform;
ii. Engages Africans in larger conversations about the continent that tend to happen outside of Africa;
iii. Affirms Africa as a site for prestigious international forums;
iv. Facilitates the visits of prominent international business, academic, public and private sector leaders to Africa.
The Republic of South Africa is a natural fit as the Roundtable 2005 African host country because it is an internationally recognized leader in Africa's movement toward democracy, development, free market reform, and good governance; as well as an information, transportation, communication, education, and finance hub for the continent. In addition, beyond the assets and resources of Boston University, the city of Boston is an ideal context for the Roundtable 2005. Boston is one of the intellectual capitals of the world, thus the Roundtable would expose a new generation of individuals engaged in scholarly study to current realities and fresh insights about Africa. Boston is a desirable site for such an event because it is one of the world's major financial centers. This makes it an excellent venue for African leaders to advance ideas that might move Africa from the margins to the mainstream of the global community.
The African Presidential Roundtable
The inaugural African Presidential Roundtable in April 2003 was a resounding success. Participants included six former African heads of state, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the former chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, among others.
The African Presidential Roundtable 2004, held in April 2004, was also precedent setting on several counts: (i) It was the first such meeting involving eight (8) former African heads of state hosted by a U.S. based entity; (ii) Convening in London and continuing in Boston made the Roundtable 2004 the first such meeting of former African heads of state on a singularly focused agenda in two cities spanning two continents; (iii) It was the first such instance in which a select group of former African heads of state met in London and in Boston to discuss detailed strategies to encourage greater access for Africa to the world's capital markets. The Roundtable 2004 was especially unique in that it was a trans-continental conversation, involving Europe, Africa, and the United States. In addition to the former heads of state, other distinguished invitees to the closed-door deliberations included key U.S. and global business leaders, political leaders and policy makers.
The Mission and Rationale
The African Presidential Roundtable is a signature program of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University (APARC). APARC is a multidisciplinary, university-based center, and was established to complement Boston University's African Studies program, the second oldest in the nation. The principal mission of APARC is to study the trends of democratization and free market reform in Africa. The Center's aim is to provide a forum for exchange on political and economic developments in sub-Saharan Africa during this current period of profound and historic change. It is our expectation that by providing such a forum APARC can help further free-market reform and democratic governance in Africa. These twin objectives are based on the premise that if conditions in Africa are to improve within countries, communities, and for individuals, African nations must be integrated into the modern global economy.
The purpose of the annual African Presidential Roundtable is to convene former democratically elected African heads of state for deliberation on issues that impact U.S.-Africa relations. The Roundtable complements APARC's other major initiatives, the Balfour African President-in-Residence Program and the APARC American - African Universities Collaborative, and as such, offers opportunities to ensure that the "African point of view" is disseminated throughout the United States. The Roundtable represents a way to consistently involve former African heads of state that seek out or have established a relationship with APARC as well as ensure continuity in the involvement of African leadership in the work of APARC.
AFRICAN PRESIDENTIAL ROUNDTABLE AT WITS ON FRIDAY, APRIL 8
The third annual African Presidential Roundtable takes place at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, on April 8. This summit will be attended by 12 former African Heads of State and students and faculty participants from five universities (three African and two American).
Discussions around the table will centre on The Blair Commission for Africa Report and The Perception and Coverage of Africa in the Media. Senior government officials have been invited to attend the Summit. While these sessions are closed to the public and the media, a media briefing will be held immediately after the programme to share the outcomes of the meeting. The media briefing will take place on Friday, April 8 from 15:30 - 16:30 at the Wits Club, West Campus, Wits University. Please RSVP as soon as possible so that you can be accredited before the briefing.
The African Presidential Roundtable is an initiative of the African Presidential Archives and Research Centre (APARC) based at Boston University in the United States. Ambassador Charles Stith, Director of the Centre said about the Roundtable, "These former leaders feel strongly that the African Presidential Roundtable represents an opportunity to reach a significant number of key individuals and institutions that can directly impact the development of Africa."
Some of the former African Heads of State who will attend the Summit are: Dr Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia); Daniel arap Moi (Kenya); Jerry Rawlings (Ghana); Ali Hassan Myinyi (Tanzania); General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Nigeria); Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam (Mauritius); Dr Bakili Muluzi (Malawi) and Aristides Maria Pereira (Cape Verde).
Participating universities are Wits University (Johannesburg); University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); University of Ghana (Ghana); Morehouse College (USA) and Boston University (USA).
For interviews prior to or after the event, or to get accreditation for the media conference, please contact Shirona Hassim on (011) 717-1019 or 0846192646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.