Cotonou, 15 July 2014/ ACP: A pioneering congress of press clubs in the West African region was launched at the Hotel Marina in Cotonou, Benin as a pilot step towards implementing an ACP-wide Federation of Press Clubs.

The two-day congress held 14-15 July was opened by the ACP Secretary General H.E Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni and the Minister of Communication and Information and Communications Technology of Benin H.E Mr Komi Koutche, supported by the Brussels EU Press Club, European Commission, and the Organisation de la Francophonie (OIF).

The event brought together more than a dozen heads of national press clubs and media houses from West African countries, along with high level representatives from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International Association of Press Clubs (IAPC) and the Media House of Cotonou.

The aim was to gather the views of press club and media house operators in the region regarding their needs and outlooks, share expertise, and to discuss potential models for networks, structure, financing and activities.

“My vision is that such network of press clubs can strengthen regional and intra-ACP exchange and cooperation, facilitate international communication-based programmes, upskill local media to report effectively on development issues, and allow the sharing of best practices in strategic communications and management,” stated Secretary General Mumuni at the opening ceremony.

The first congress in Cotonou follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the ACP Secretariat and the European Press Clubs Federation in September 2013 to collaborate on launching the ACP Federation of Press Clubs. Press clubs act as communication hubs and are platforms for networking, information exchange, public debate and promotion of ACP states on the international stage, with a wide range of members including stakeholders from the media, government, business and civil society sectors.

The final declaration endorsed by the congress will detail key principles and foreseen areas of activities.

(Photos from top: Minister of Communication & ICT of Benin H.E Mr Komi Koutche (centre), ACP Secretary General H.E Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni (right) and Director of the Brussels EU Press Club Mr Laurent Briday; Press club and media house managers from the West African region)

– ACP Press