Benin community multimedia practitioners call for efforts towards a national network
"The relevance of the CMC concept in Benin is clearly evident. It is not even a question that needs to be asked. We should be talking more of how to increase numbers and how to sustain the centres," said Bakari Bonkano, director of Radio Kandi FM, during the final wrap-up session of the National CMC Training and Partners Forum supported by UNESCO.
The workshop brought together sixteen participants from across the country for five days of training in information and communication technology skills, including the use of open source software tools and strategic use of the internet. The workshop also featured training on radio surf, a format that uses radio to take internet and CD-based information to local listeners.
The workshop was held July 24 to 28, 2006, at the Songhai Centre in Porto Novo, Benin, as part of the international community multimedia centre initiative, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. UNESCO has supported the establishment of a number of community telecentre and multimedia facilities in Benin since 2000.
The gathering concluded with a partners' forum that drew the participation of agencies such as UNDP and La Commission Nationale de la Francophonie in Benin. The forum called for greater collaboration and synergy between efforts among local, national and international partners. "We have different names for what are essentially the same approaches," observed Mr Jules Agani, referring to similarities between many of UNESCO's CMCs and the Centres Locale d'Animation Culturelle (CLAC) of La Francophonie.
At the end of the forum, participants produced a declaration committing themselves to greater efforts to network community media facilities in order to increase the sustainability of local centres and achieve more impact. They also called for greater cooperation with international organisations such as UNESCO, other UN agencies and donors.
Reflecting on the events of a busy and stimulating week, Mr Bonkano of Radio Kandi FM finishes: "We wait too often for others. It is up to us. Today we need to be connected, but whether we are connected to the internet or not, we are on the move."