Mwanja Ng’anjo is the head of communications at African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the rebranded African Union’s agency responsible for implementing Agenda 2063 – the continent’s strategic framework for socio-economic transformation
What exactly does AUDA-NEPAD seek to achieve with the Agenda 2063 Media Network?
We started the Agenda 2063 Media Network officially in April 2017, to increase coverage on Agenda 2063 – the continent’s transformation agenda for the next 50 years which has been broken down into ten–year implementation plans. Since we all know development will not take place anywhere in the world without a vibrant media engagement, the premise upon which the Agenda 2063 Media Network was built upon is to increase coverage on the implementation of Agenda 2063 itself: how far we have come and whether or not we are on the right path.
The Network is also meant to basically interrogate the Agenda and provide stories from the level of Member States and the different regions of Africa. This is to help us at African Union Development Agency stay in touch with what is happening on ground as regards the different flagship programmes and all other initiatives that speak to Agenda 2063. So, the role of the media is very important, they provide a very crucial link between policymakers and the citizens we serve; they are that crucial link that we need to reach the grassroots.
The Agenda 2063 Media Network is now barely 2 years old, how far have you gone in terms of achieving its mandate?
We have come a long away, we are still breaking ground; we have got 11 regional focal persons and are also recruiting members at the level of Member States. The regional coordinators have been at work trying to create awareness in communities including tertiary institutions like universities as well as interrogating government officials including parliamentarians. We exchange quarterly reports through which they report on progress and their activities. So, traction is being achieved over the last 2 years.
Although Agenda 2063 has been adopted by the whole continent and every member state of the AU has subscribed to the Agenda, there is still a vacuum in the narrative; ordinary citizens are often not aware of polices their leaders have subscribed to at the AU level. So, the role of the media is to bridge that gap by interrogating leaders and building awareness and sensitization in their communities among various stakeholders.
We just came back from a successful Brand Awareness and Sensitisation Drive in Nairobi, where we engaged with more than 80 members of the media fraternity and communicators to help us create awareness about the Agenda. The media has an important role in the development narrative of the continent. We have already drafted our work plan for 2020, considering the fact that NEPAD has been transformed into the African Union Development Agency; we are going to all the other regions in the coming years to create sensitization and to engage with more journalists at country level as well.
How has the transformation of NEPAD into the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) put you in a better place to implement Agenda 2063?
NEPAD has officially become African Union Development Agency, thanks to an AU summit decision to transform NEPAD into AUDA; the decision was taken in 2018 while the mandate was adopted in 2019 at Niamey, Niger. This is part of the reform process taking place at the African Union, aimed at improving effectiveness in terms of delivery of programmes and impact on the ground. Therefore, if I may say, as an agency that was already playing the role of a development agency, rebranding NEPAD as AUDA makes sense.
Our mandate has been broadened; it is because of the new mandate that our scope has been expanded as well. Now we are able to work at regional level with the various regional blocks and also directly at country level, with the various Member States. As African Union’s first-ever development agency, our mandate is therefore to coordinate and execute priority regional and continental projects that promote regional integration for the accelerated realisation of the goals of Agenda 2063. So, we are now on the driving seat as regards the implementation of Agenda 2063.
Agenda 2063 is an ambitious framework that seeks to establish Africa as a force to reckon with in global economic arena towards achieving the vision of a peaceful and prosperous Africa. We are now six years into the implementation of the First Ten Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) of Agenda 2063. What is your assessment of the progress made so far?
Significant progress has been made; as we are speaking, my colleagues in monitoring and evaluation unit are working with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and AU Member States to compile a report on how far we have come. The report will be launched at the next AU Summit in January 2020.
We have achieved progress across many areas, peace and security, for instance. We should give ourselves a pat on the back! I think we are doing quite well on the continent although some areas are still hot spots. So, we are looking forward to report on our progress in 2020 which will tell us how far we have come as a continent.
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