Seven hundred and Eleven (711) entries from 14 countries across West Africa have been received for the 2021 edition of the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA).
This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, October 22, 2021, at the Swiss Spirit Alisa Hotel in Accra, Ghana. Both Conference and Awards will be held on the same day.
The theme for this year is Misinformation, Digital Media Regulation and Journalism in Africa. This has been necessitated by the growing number of legislation that tends to strengthen state control over the use of the internet, online communication outlets and digital media platforms including social media platforms. Participants will also explore the impact misinformation is having on journalism in Africa and how public trust in the media can be sustained and boosted.
The 711 entries from the print, electronic and online media were submitted by journalists from over 250 media houses across the region. These outstanding works of journalism have come in many categories including Health, Anti-Corruption, Investigative and Human Rights reporting. Introducing this year is a Special category for the COVID-19 reporting.
The entries will be evaluated by a jury made up of distinguished, experienced, and renowned journalists and media experts. The list of finalists for WAMECA 2021 will be announced in early October.
The West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards is an annual initiative of the MFWA to promote media excellence in the sub-region. Since its inception five years ago, the event has each year hosted more than 300 participants from across Africa and beyond.
Previous events have hosted key personalities such as the UN Special Rapporteur, David Kaye, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UN Office for West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, and former Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information Advocate Pansy Tlakula.
Themes featured have included Media Development, Financing and Sustainability (2018), Social Media, Fake News & Elections in Africa (2019), and The Future of Journalism in Africa (2020),
Over the last five years, more than 3,500 entries have cumulatively been received from journalists in the region to the annual Awards out of which 40 journalists have been honoured for producing compelling works which have had significant impact on society.
The most coveted title of the Awards – The West Africa Journalist of the year –has so far been taken by Ghanaian journalist, Seth Kwame Boateng (2017); Investigative Journalist and Editor-In-Chief of the Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni (2018 & 2020) and Burkinabe journalist, Sama Tounwendsida Hugues Richard (2019) with the private newspaper L’Observeteur Paalga.
Several other journalists from across the region have also won the specific category awards in the areas of health, SDGs, Anti-corruption, Investigative, Human Rights, Business and SMEs and Telecoms Reporting.
The MFWA has in the last 22 years been advocating for freedom of expression and media development through various interventions that seek to strengthen the media as effective forums for democratic discourse and promote a safer environment for journalistic practice. WAMECA facilitates conversations/deliberations amongst key stakeholders on the challenges that continue to confront the region and honours journalists who brave the storm to tell stories that have significant impact on their societies.