Trends in Media Communications conference opens in Accra

Accra, Oct 19, GNA - The maiden edition of Trends in Media and Communications conference 2021 has opened in Accra with a call on Africa to move away from being consumers of foreign digital apps and content to becoming producers of indigenous content for its teeming youth.

Professor Janet Kwami, Associate Professor, University of Furman, USA, who joined the meeting virtually as a keynote speaker, said it was also important that individuals and the youth of Africa especially were equipped with media information literacy competencies that would enable them to navigate the complex digital landscape.

She said when the youth were given such platforms, they would be able to “understand the stakes involved in this kind of engagement” and be able to leverage the benefit of the digital age.

“This requires that we ensure gender equity in IT assembling, from software design and network design hardware development and other technological solutions.

“African countries must move towards engendering local appropriate and relevant tech solutions,” she stated.

Prof Kwami agreed that there had been exponential rise in disinformation, political polarisation, increasing influence of digital platforms and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had created a greater demand for reliance on digital platforms.

She said the engagement, therefore, would help to actively engage the public on issues related to global media and the role of ICT to lessen the pandemic’s impact.

She said the African youth formed majority of the 1.8 billion young people of the world and that they had been known to use social media more for entertainment purposes and so there was the need to engage them on skills and attitudes required to use the internet more profitably.

Prof Kwami said stakeholders, therefore, needed to pay attention to how the youth chanced on information on social media and how they re-circulated or re-shared them on the same media.

The Department of Communications Studies, University of Ghana, in partnership with Penplusbytes and DW Akademie, are organising the two-day conference meant for researchers to share their researches, critiquing and finding solutions to digital usage.

The conference is on the theme: “Africa’s Digital Youth; Exploring media information Literacy Competencies and Practices”.

Professor Martin Oteng-Ababio, Acting Provost, College of Education, University of Ghana, described the media and communication landscape as one of the fast changing in the world while misinformation and disinformation had become the order of the day.

He said digital technologies were also allowing wide dissemination of false news with little technology available to authenticate such information.

Ms Juliet Amoah, Executive Director, Penplusbytes, expressed concern over increasing fake news content and called for the need to promote media information literacy education at all levels.

She said the academia, research institutions and other stakeholders must play lead roles in educating society on the need to share only truthful verified information to address challenges that came with digital technology.