Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The International Day for Universal Access to Information 2020 focuses on to the right to information in times of crisis. It also highlights the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

To encourage the youth within the African continent about the importance of access to information (ATI) in their lives, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)’s regional media project fesmedia Africa, recently launched a video clip competition asking youth across the continent to share what they feel about access to information with a view to UNESCO’s theme for this year’s Universal Access to Information Day – Saving Lives, Building Trust and Bringing Hope.

The competition ran from the 14th through the 20th of September and included 3 Portuguese language, 2 French, 1 Sesotho and 43 English video clips which were judged using the following criteria, Creativity, Technical Prowess and Content. Entries were received from Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

“Judging from the amazing feedback we received on our various social media platforms and the content of the videos submitted, the winners already know a great deal about the importance of access to information and all fesmedia Africa did was to provide them with a platform to share this information in a creative way. And for this they have expressed so much gratitude and enthusiasm, we’re overwhelmed. The youth constitute not only a significant percentage of the African population, they ARE the future and yet their voices are not always heard. Our hope is that NGOs and government institutions will take note of their knowledge and skills and indeed collaborate with them to address challenges faced.” says Lis Jordan, Programme Support Manager at fesmedia Africa.

The winning videos can been on their efforts on various platforms including CSI/CSR news network, as well as

Austin Chinonye Ekwujuru from Nigeria took first place, with 6 years’ experience in the non-profit sector, Austin uses the instrumentality of the access to information law to entrench transparency and accountability in Nigerian public institutions through championing grassroots’ accountability campaigns.

Currently, he serves as the Chief Executive of Basic Rights Watch (BRW), an organization that promotes public accountability and community development through improving citizens’ access to public information, and enhancing active citizenry and participatory governance. Currently supporting the localization and implementation of the Open Government Partnership in Nigeria, Austin is also a fellow of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Open-Mind Young-Voices program, a ONE Champion, and delegate to the Continental Model-AU Summit 2018 amongst other awards.

Jonathan Suleman from Mozambique came in second, he holds a degree in political science. He is a trade unionist, a social activist, a member of the Quelimane municipal assembly as well as a researcher and a musician in the style of rapper as a way of social intervention. He is currently being trained in the 4 YOUTH LEADERS group, by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung foundation, (Mozambique-Maputo).

The Third winner is Nobuhle Nyamanza from Zimbabwe, Nobuhle is a young Analytical Chemist by
profession. She is a passionate trade unionist and the current secretary general for young workers under Zimbabwe Chemicals and Allied Workers Union (ZCPAWU) and a committee member in the Zimbabwe Industrial young workers’ structure.

“This initiative was a pilot and given the amazing response, we will certainly discuss how we can best grow it in future during our annual strategic planning in November. We already have an idea or two for online panel discussions to unpack the various challenges youth face (i.e. the high cost of data to access the internet) as well as the types of information they most need access to (i.e. further education opportunities).” Jordan concludes.

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