African Journalists Should Innovatively Report Science and Technology for Sustainable Development – Bindir

Journalists in the African continent saddled with the onerous task of disseminating information to enhance public awareness on the relevance of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for the region’s accelerated socio-economic development have been called upon to adopt innovative approach in their reportage.
Dr. Umar Bindir, Director General of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), made the call while presenting a keynote speech on “Global STI Trends in Africa – The Role of Journalists” at a two-day West African Regional Workshop with the theme: “Making Science and Technology Information More Accessible for Africa’s Development.” The workshop was jointly organised for science journalists by the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (STRC) of the African Union Commission (AUC) at Abuja, Nigeria.
Dr. Bindir said that because of the peculiar challenges African countries experience, journalists operating in the continent cannot effectively communicate” science and technology for the achievement of social change and sustainable development through the traditional ways of newsreporting.
According to him, sustainable development in Africa has to be science led and driven by an unprecedented transfer of technology and acquisition of knowledge. He added that science journalists could set the agenda for ensuring that every scientific endeavour leads to technology, every technology leads to innovation and every innovation leads to a product.
Dr. Bindir enjoined science journalist to embellish their reports with accurate data, to be strategic and innovative with their reports and also offer solutions were necessary as part of the new model for communicating science for the achievement of socio-economic transformation.
He said Africa ought not to be associated with hunger and starvation, disease and avoidable deaths, poverty and underdevelopment if its rich endowments in human, material and natural resources were properly harnessed for the benefits of the citizenry.
“This scenario demands that the science journalists should think out of the box and communicate Science and Technology based on the critical need for addressing issues such as job creation, disease control, food security, crime control, entrepreneurship, energy, health service delivery, housing, education, transportation, climate change and economic stability.”
Dr. Bindir opined that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were unattainable by any African country and proposed Agenda 1777 as a development paradigm for nations in the continent. In his explanation, the one (1) in Agenda 1777 advocates oneness and togetherness for the promotion of unity. “We must understand that Nigeria is one and we must do away with tribalism, religious bigotry, geo-political zones and political leanings. We believe that in the next seven (7) years, Nigeria should be able to establish seven (7) multinational companies that would give the world seven (7) international products.”
The Abuja workshop was first in the series of workshops that would be undertaken by UNESCO, ECOWAS, ECA and AU in different regions of Africa with the objectives of providing insight into the fundamental roles and responsibilities of science journalism for African development, determining priority thematic areas and ways to further continuous training and development of science journalists, and strengthening of scientific reporting and writing of participants with the view to improving the quality of scientific news reaching the public.
The workshop was also meant to provide exchange on new and emerging science communication methods and approaches, help reporters and writers produce accurate and informative stories about developments in science, technology, medicine and the environment and as well identify challenges to science communication and more effective science reporting for further planning.
The workshop brought together forty (40) heads of key media training institutions, decision-makers, scientists and journalists from Benin, Burkina-Faso, Cote-d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, African Federation of Science Journalists (AFST), UNESCO, ECOWAS and ECA.

Adokiye Dagogo-George
Head, Public Relations