Saturday 28th January 2017
21- 22nd February, 2017, Dakar – Senegal.
How to promote African culture and identity in the public service media in Africa?
Coordination: Professor Gervais MBARGA.
Professor Gervais Mbarga from the University of Moncton, in Canada, is surely one of the journalists well known on the African continent.
The former Director of programs at the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) has been working for years now at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in the University of Moncton, with the main objective of sharing with the young generation his broad knowledge.
After the Advanced School of Mass Communication (ASMAC/ ESSTIC) Yaoundé where he trained many young Africans in TV Programming, Mr Mbarga also specialized in Francophone Media Studies, in Developing countries Media Analysis, in Audiovisual Production, in Science Journalism as well as Crisis Communication.
Today, he manages with mastery the Information and Communication Department of the University of Moncton.
After graduating from the University of Laval Quebec where he obtained a Doctorate, Professor Mbarga connected remotely with professionals of African media with whom he created an Association of science journalists for French Africa. He is one of the main partners of African journalists members of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) based in Canada. It should be noted that the WFSJ is an international organization which brings together close to 52 associations of science journalists and technicians from Africa, America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Professor Mbarga always admits that people should not be afraid of progress. “In order to understand the world in which we are living today, we need to adapt ourselves to it, not forgetting the past, but also, we should not stick on it”.
It is no doubt this permanent quest for change that motivated the former CIRTEF employee and advocate for African national languages to respond positively to AUB’s demand.
The author of the book entitled: “Cameroon flag, the banner star” published in 2009 by L’Harmattan, made time for the Forum on African Media Content which will be organized next February 2017 on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB). Here is his presentation note.
Digital Era: A new order
AFRICAN AUDIOVISUAL: THE BOUNDLESS FANTACY
Background: Fabulous future Africa
In the future, 30 years or so, one person out of four in the world will be African; a total of 2.5 billion people, a tremendous market for radio and television, the second biggest potential market of the world. Which audiovisual producer would refuse or reject such attractive data? “ Africa, "The Hopeful Continent”  presents decisive advantages: Education has improved between 2000 and 2010 by 48%. Deceases have reduced by 30%. Pandemics have dropped by 74% in some countries. The population is young, proud, creative, dynamic, optimistic and ambitious.
In this setting comes digital transformation one of the most powerful the history of communication has ever known. It has transformed broadcasting to a whole new boundless reality; multiple broadcasting channels where audiences create topics, produce and share content on the various media to the appreciation of the intellectuals
In Africa today, 2017, 9 people out of 10 have a telephone, a challenge where the media has to reinvent itself so as to stay afloat. Africa can not afford to lag behind as the new advances in media technology transforms the world. Nations are already investing huge amounts of money for the transition to the TNT. In this context of incredible potentialities, borders not only disappear between nations, continents, organizations but also between the image, sound, print, the virtual and the real.
The projects: technologies, creativity and programming
The projects are numerous and huge. To technologies, we should add creativity and artistic imagination in order to satisfy the demands and expectations of the public: That is, adjust contents that reflect African culture and broadcasting with a frequency that satisfies all its nationals/ citizens.
During this digital era, consideration is given to our local creators, innovators, culture and traditional producers to meet the different requirements of good content to avoid the decline of the audiovisual. It is needless to say that African organizations are already struggling with one antenna to satisfy their audiences.
Moving forward, questions worth the thought are diverse:
- What will the audiovisual landscape look like with a multitude of stations?
- What type of content can satisfy the public, viewers and listeners given the numerous opportunities the new media technology offers?
- Which standards are applicable?
- Which partnership of Value can be contacted?
- Which form of financing can be used?
Considering those requirements and taking into account the weakness of our continent, we observe interests of the Multinationals who are pretending to offer solutions. But we are aware of the social, political and financial impact of the involvement of these organizations.
There is another demand totally neglected being unknown. Unfortunately, few African professionals know the fundamentals. In the Digital Era, technical antenna programming and quality production will make the difference because it will bring about knowledge and proper content to the public.
In the near future, the amateurism in these domains will erode any TV and Radio organization as the digital era has installed mobility.
The current listeners and viewers are mobile as they have options of Smart phones, I-pads, computers and more. For those organizations relying solely on analogue, the change will be drastic as a new mode of broadcasting is on the rise.
At the end, every broadcasting organization will have to catch up with digitalization. The OTT (Over-the top service) will replace forms of broadcasting like cables, satellites and telephone lines to the satisfaction of the viewers and listeners.
Way forward: a new leadership of the AUB
Considering all the uncertainties above, how do we reshape the African audiovisual? What, when, where and how do we attract the dispersed audiences? What type of content do we need for our African listeners and viewers? What quality and line of professionals do we need? How do we get them trained? How and what can be the contribution of our partners? What technologies and type of machines do we need? What is their real nature? How do we put these machines to proper use? Where do we find them?
The above questions are a call for AUB to take the lead and refocus its ideas, objectives and actions to help bring up its member organizations in this digital era. AUB should not simply collect the suggested solutions in this forum but engage in a concrete mission to put them into action !
Gervais MBARGA, Ph.D.
Faculty of arts and social sciences
Moncton. Nouveau-Brunswick. E1A 3E9
Pavillon of arts, local 231-2
18, avenue Antonine-Maillet
Telecopie : (506) 858 4166
Courriel : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Economist, March 2-8, 2013.