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Published On: Fri, Jun 15th, 2018

Exploring Sino-Africa media cooperation

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By Ismail Abdulaziz and Shang Quifen

Information and Technological developments have changed the way information is presented, distributed and how the public gives feedback from the traditional and new media. With new digital technology, the newsroom has changed to a digital one. This development changed the way news is communicated, who and what is the target as well as the medium of the dissemination.
The use of social media through Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Weibo, Instagram etc. allows the public to push out information at a faster rate than the traditional media of radio, newspapers and television. The social media platform, apart from it having large following, also determined the kind of audience that follow a medium. (The age, sex, class and group).
The introduction of the 5G+ internet connectivity is another great leap in technology that would affect news reporting. First, large video-driven traffic will continue to break out; new applications for mobile video will emerge in an endless stream; secondly, transmission and distribution will become more diverse, and news gathering and transmission will use a large number of 5G transmission technologies; Third, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality technology will be popularized and applied, 5G microsecond delay characteristics will effectively solve the vertigo sense caused by delay; Fourth, the media convergence dimension would be more broadened. Including the integration of media and communications, and the integration of the Internet of Things.
How do all these technologies come to bear in Africa’s newsrooms taking cognizance of its relationship with China, which is a giant in these modern technologies? The Chinese government has been relating with African media professionals since it ventured into Egypt in the 1950s. The Forum of China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) also provides a platform for various interaction between the two parties. At the 2006 FOCAC Summit in Beijing, participants agreed to a number of partnerships in Information Technology which included Sino-African Cooperation in the media sphere, ranging from journalists reporting on bilateral events, to training of African journalists by Chinese Universities, to bilateral investment in the media. Similarly, at the 6th FOCAC held in 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa President Xi of China pledged to invest $60 billion amounting to $20 billion increase announced from the 2012 forum.
The Chinese model can be adopted to globalise the media industry in Africa. China is Africa’s largest trading partner, surpassing the United States in 2009. According to the statistics by China Customs, in January 2018, the import and export value of China-Africa trade amounted to US$16.5 billion, up 13.7% year on year, 21.9% lower than that over the same period of last year. Among these, China’s exports to Africa reached US$8.31 billion, down 4.7%; China’s imports from Africa reached US$8.19 billion, up 41.4%; the trade surplus was US$130 million, down 95.7% year on year. Also, according to the 39th China Internet Development Statistics Report published by CNNIC, China Internet Information Centre, by December 2016, the number of Chinese on internet reached 731 million, an increase of 42.99 million, and the Internet penetration rate was 53.2 per cent. The number of mobile Internet users reached 695 million, up 75.5 million from the previous year, and the market penetration rate rose to 95.1 per cent.
China’s new media industry is iterating rapidly. First, the user demand based on mobile interconnection and big data is rapidly iterating the user demand, the user demand can bring more commercial value. Second, the intelligent Internet based on big data and artificial intelligence technology is rapidly iterative portal website. Third, the user time is rapidly iterating the number of users, user time has become the focus of the competition of the Internet giant. Four is the audio and video fast iteration graph and text, the commercial value of audio and video on the Internet far exceeds that of graph and text.
At a China-Nigeria Media Cooperation Promotion Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria in 2017, Guo Weimin, Deputy Director of the Information Office of the State Council, put forward three proposals on how the media can carry on the traditional friendship between China and Nigeria. These factors can also be applied to the continent as a whole. First, he suggested the promotion of people-to-people relations and the telling of China-Nigeria friendly development stories; second is to innovate pragmatic cooperation to promote the common development of Sino-Nigerian media; third is to enhance solidarity and collaboration and enhance the international voice of developing countries.
The people-to-people relations can be literally achieved through the various programmes, seminar/trainings and exchange of manpower between African and Chinese media stakeholders. Secondly, continued collaboration between Chinese consulates in Africa on narrating the infrastructure development undertaken by Chinese firms. The narrative of Sino-Africa relation must be truthfully told from the openness that can be created through the existing mutual relationship of Africa media organisations and the Chinese people both on the continent and in China.
This openness for mutual benefit by Chinese government and the large leap China has made in the areas of the media and internet technology is an inspiration and model that would benefit Africa. More cooperation would ne needed, however, in the areas of more African media agencies’ participation in China, more fellowship for journalists from China to Africa and Africa to China to understudy each other, more media exchange cooperation like that existing between News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Xinhua, and the training of African journalists to become trainers so that more professionals can understand the Sino-African relationship.

By Ismail Abdulaziz is of the News Agency of Nigeria and Shang Quifen is of the Research and Training Institute of SARTV of the People’s Republic of China.

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