Yaoundé — In the run-up to the 33rd meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Central Africa (ICE2017), Antonio Pedro, Director of the Economic Commission for Africa's (ECA) Sub regional Office for Central Africa has highlighted the "very important role" of the media in achieving structural transformation in the sub region.
"What you say and how you say it can influence quite a lot," said Mr. Pedro. It is for this reason, he added, "that ECA has a policy of embedding journalists as part of our major events in order to provide them with the platform to engage with policy makers across the continent and broaden their understanding of the issues."
Mr. Pedro made the remarks during a press conference on 20 September 2017 ahead of ICE2017, which will take place from 26-29 September in Douala, Cameroon, under the theme, "Made in Central Africa: from a vicious to a virtuous circle."
Journalists from about 15 key media outlets in Central Africa have been selected for immersion reporting during the meeting in Douala where discussions will focus on ways of promoting industrialization, regional integration and the consumption of goods made in Central Africa.
The ECA director told journalists "We want to be partners with you. We believe it is a responsibility for think tanks like us to provide you with such platform and access to knowledge so that together we can achieve this monumental task of transforming Central Africa."
Commenting on his expectations for ICE2017, Mr. Pedro said "We hope to be able to secure agreement from all the stakeholders in our sub region about the need to diversify our economies through resource driven and trade-induced industrialization.
It is also important, he added, "for us to have a broad consensus on the imperative for, and key elements of, formulating a smart industrial policy for Central Africa; establishing a one stop platform to look at ways of boosting the Intra-Africa Trade agenda (BIAT); meeting regularly with policymakers, industry captains and other stakeholders in order to constantly explore ways of making Central Africa more productive and more competitive."
Mr. Pedro urged the journalists to make good use of ECA's willingness and readiness to collaborate with the media.
"You have access to the necessary knowledge products and policy makers. I have no doubt, therefore, that you will fulfill your responsibility in educating our constituents and managing expectations. You are important stakeholders in whatever happens in Central Africa."
ICE 2017 will bring together representatives of ministries in charge of planning, economy, mines, industry, trade, and small and medium size enterprises; delegates from ECCAS, CEMAC and their specialized agencies; representatives of UNIDO, FAO, UNDP, AfDB, the private sector, civil society, university and research centres in the sub region.