First Conference of the World Association of Community Broadcasters for Africa (Middle East and North Africa) just ended in Rabat
The first World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC Africa) Conference was held on 22 to 24 October 2007 in Rabat, Morocco, jointly organized with the UNESCO Office in Rabat, the UNESCO Chair in Public and Community Communication, and with the support of the Ministry of Communication of Morocco and Maroc Telecom.
This conference entitled, "Community Radio in Africa-Middle East and North Africa: Sharing Experiences for development and democracy building from the grassroots" gathered community radio stakeholders and offered an opportunity for more than a hundred broadcasters from the two regions to improve their skills, to increase the social impact of community radio where it exists, and to develop an appropriate environment for community radio in countries where this is not yet established, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The conference reflected on how AMARC can most effectively increase the impact of community radio in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as how to transfer African experience in this field to the MENA region in order to strengthen community media as an important factor for democracy building.
The participants reviewed the situation of community radio in their respective countries and discussed the contribution of community radio towards key issues such as the democratization of societies, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the resolution of the conflict situations.
On the first day of this inter regional conference, participants discussed the specific legislative framework required for the establishment and development of community radios. The plenary session reported on the current situation of community radios in the media landscape and explored the legislative challenges for community radios and community media in general. The plenary was followed by two panel discussions, one looking at experiences of community media and another on models and arguments for advocating the establishment of a legal framework for community media. Two workshops followed to enable participants to share and exchange experiences on legislative frameworks and challenges for community radio advocacy. The day ended with the AMARC Africa General Assembly and MENA participants Assembly.
The second day looked into challenges to the sustainability of community media and community ownership. Following the plenary session, 2 panels were organized, one on barriers to the sustainability of community radios and the strategies to confront these barriers, and another on community media ownership by communities. Three workshops followed on challenges of sustainability and ownership in Africa, the MENA region and the challenges of ownership and programming in a gender perspective. The day ended with another session of the AMARC Africa General Assembly and MENA participants Assembly.
The third day examined in 3 sessions the content, the objectives and the impact of community media. The conference closed with the Rabat Declaration on the development of community radio in Africa, the Maghreb and Middle East.
The World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC) Africa is a network of community radio stations, associate organizations and individuals that promotes social change through the development of a strong community radio sector. AMARC Africa has a social agenda philosophy with a strong focus on poverty alleviation, conflict resolution, HIV/Aids, gender empowerment, human rights and democracy.