Workshop: Validation of the African Union Communication and Advocacy Strategy (2013 – 2016): Framework on AU Website and Social Media

Invitation to representatives of the media

WHEN: 3rd and 5th October 2012

The workshop will hold in two phases:

3 – 4 October will be dedicated for the discussion on the AU Communication Strategy;

5th October will be dedicated to the revamped AU website and use Social Media in the AU

WHERE: African Union headquarters, new Conference Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, (Small Conference Room 1)

WHO: Organized by the Directorate of Information and Communication (DIC) of the African Union Commission (AUC)

WHY: The Information, Communications and Advocacy Strategy of the African Union (AU) Commission aims to ensure that communications by all departments and allied institutions are well coordinated, effectively managed and responsive to the diverse information needs of the AU’s various stakeholders.

Objectives: The main objective of the workshop is to validate the draft Communication Strategy for the Union aimed at popularizing its activities through its organs, regional offices, the RECs, the Stakeholders and target groups. The workshop will also discuss the current status, future plans, challenges and opportunities of the African Union website and social media.

Guiding Principles

Supporting these objectives are policy commitments, based on relevant human rights principals and international public service values. Through this principles-based strategy, the AU Commission commits to:

o    Provide its stakeholders and publics with timely, accurate, clear, objective and complete information about its policies, programmes, services and initiatives.

o    Communicate in real time, in all the official languages (Arabic, English, French, Ki-Swahili, Portuguese) of the AU.

o    Ensure that institutions of the Commission are visible, accessible and accountable to the publics they serve.

o    Employ a variety of ways and means to communicate, and provide information in multiple formats to accommodate diverse needs.

o    Identify and address communications needs and issues routinely in the development, implementation and evaluation of policies, programmes, services and initiatives.

o    Consult stakeholders and target audiences, listen to and take account of the concerns and interests of staff and stakeholders when establishing priorities, developing policies, planning programmes and services.

o    Deliver prompt, courteous and responsive service that is sensitive to the needs and concerns of the public and individual rights.

o    Encourage senior management and staff to communicate openly with each other and with the public about policies, programmes, services and initiatives they are familiar with and for which they have responsibility.

o    Defend and promote the trust and confidence that stakeholders have in the integrity and impartiality in the AU and its Commission.

o    Ensure that all institutions of the AU and the Commission work collaboratively to achieve coherent and effective communications with the public.

Website and Social Media

The African Union is actively using the AU website and Social Media to disseminate its information and communicate with the public at large. Providing the necessary guidance for coordinating and harmonizing the development, maintenance and content administration of Website of the African Union (www.au.int) and usage of social media tools is vital:

•    to disseminate timely information to the world on the activities and programmes of the African Union ;

•    to provide the necessary and harmonized platform for the exchange of information with stakeholders and to be more efficient and responsive to the public;

•    to enhance and portray the image of the African Union to the public at large;

•    to have the same corporate identity and design in terms of “look and feel”, presentation and quality of information shared to the public using the online tools;

•    to effectively provide necessary tools and data for researchers, academy, students and the public.

To this effect a draft Website and Social Media Guidelines have been developed. These Guidelines will help to coordinate all departments and offices of the African Union Commission. Among other things, the draft Guidelines identify and define the role of focal persons in coordinating content from their respective departments and offices to create an essential link to DIC and its website team. The workshop will discuss the draft guidelines to reflect and improve the content. Furthermore, the workshop is expected to deliberate over the current status, the future plan, challenges and opportunities of the AU website and Social Media.

The final documents will be presented to the AUC leadership for approval before implementation.

Expected outcomes:

The outcome of the workshop will be used as input to the draft Communication Strategy to ensure an all inclusive strategy for 2013-2016;

The approved Communication Strategy will be submitted to the AUC Leadership for final approval and later to the Summit.

The framework for the use of Social Media and the AUC Website policies will be adopted.

Participants:

The participants of the workshop include:

Communication officers in the AU Regional Offices; the AU Organs and Institutions; the NEPAD; RECs; focal persons dealing with communication in the AUC Departments; the staff of the Directorate of Information and Communication of the AUC.

Background:

The African Union (AU) and its precursor the Organization of African Unity (OAU) were founded on the ideals of Pan Africanism. The main objective has always been to consolidate African unity and foster continental development and progress. To achieve this objective, the AU has embarked on developing an inclusive communication strategy to enhance the advocacy and popularisation of its activities.

Communication goes beyond information: It establishes relationships and creates dialogue with the target population. It is not a neutral and useless exercise, but it is an element for development.

The inception of the African Union, following the Sirte Declaration of 9 September, 1999, of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity, generated tremendous interest about the prospects of Africans finally taking control of their collective destiny.

Building on the achievements of the OAU, the AU’s main remit is to accelerate the process of integration in the continent so as to enable it play its rightful role in the global economy while addressing the multifaceted social, economic and political problems brought on by unequal imperialistic economic relationships and globalization.

The main tenets of the Vision of the AU include:

o    The promotion of accelerated socio-economic integration of the continent, leading to greater unity and solidarity between African countries and peoples.

o    Building a partnership between African governments and all segments of civil society, particularly women, youth and the private sector, in order to strengthen solidarity and cohesion among the peoples of Africa.

o    Promoting a culture of peace, security and stability on the continent as a prerequisite for the implementation of the development and integration agenda of the Union.

This Vision has been further broken down into the following key objectives:

o    To achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the peoples of Africa;

o    To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States;

o    To accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;

o    To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples;

o    To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

o    To promote peace, security and stability on the continent;

o    To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance;

o    To promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments;

o    To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and international negotiations;

o     To promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies;

o    To promote cooperation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of Africans;

o    To coordinate and harmonize the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union;

o    To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology;

o    To work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.

The Communication and Information Directorate (DIC) has elaborated a strategic document for Information, Communication and Advocacy as well as a framework on the revamped AU website and Social. These policy documents will be discussed as a global communication strategy for the Union including its organs, regional and continental representations and the Missions abroad.

The Draft Strategy and the Operational Plan which constitute the basis of the African Union Communication for 2013 – 2016 period aim at ensuring an effective communication in the African Union, managed by the DIC in collaboration with all the information and communication officers within the AU regional offices as well as AU Organs, and the Communication and Information officers of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) among others.

Source: African Union Commission (AUC) – Press Release – 26 September 2012

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Marc Mcilhone
Marc Mcilhone is AfricanBrains' Editor - sourcing news and features content and overseeing the work of the site’s contributors. Marc’s work is informed by his technical background in architecture having worked for some of the UK’s leading practices on projects within the education, healthcare and housing sectors. Marc has a particular interest in how African innovators are creating sustainable solutions that have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. Please email press releases and news to: editor@africanbrains.org