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May 23, 2015

Tell the continent’s story – President urges Africans


President John Dramani Mahama has encouraged Africans to take advantage of modern technology to better tell the story of the continent.

"We must insist on being the experts of our own experiences, on telling our own stories of the Africa we know. We must continue to take to facebook, twitter and Instagram, we must continue to post, share, pin and blog about all our victories, whether large or small, personal or political," he said.

He was delivering the keynote address to open the Oxford Africa Conference 2015 at the Oxford Union in the United Kingdom Friday.

The Oxford Union is the world’s most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to the Oxford University.

The two-day conference is being coordinated by the Oxford University Africa Society, the Oxford Business Network for Africa and the Said Business School.

The theme for the 6th annual event is, “A Continent on the Move: People, Politics and Business Across Borders”, and it sought to investigate new thinking and perspectives about Africa across all disciplines.

Missing pages

Before reading his prepared text, President Mahama sent the audience into laughter when he said, "This time, I have rechecked to make sure all my pages are here," referring to what happened to him at the opening of the 47th ECOWAS Summit in Accra last Tuesday when he could not find the last two pages of his speech and had to deliver the rest of his address extempore.

He explained that the pages got missing when someone had gone to photocopy the original for the media.

Strides

President Mahama said although most of the world were aware of the problems confronting the continent, they were equally aware of the impressive strides the continent was making to solve some of the problems.

Yet, they considered Africa as one entity so when there was one problem somewhere, they saw it as a total picture of the continent and not one out of the 54 countries.

He expressed concern that the stories that the international media continued to carry about the continent had mainly been diseases, poverty and squalor.

He said, however, that many innovative things were going on, saying today South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya were fast becoming international leaders of mobile app innovations while Ghana was also a leader in providing broadband access.

"Take for instance MedAfrica, the free mobile phone app that was created and launched in Kenya. We are talking of a country with a population of roughly 44 and a half million - and only 7,250 doctors to serve it.

"MedAfrica provides people with basic information about health and medicine, it provides its users with possible diagnoses for symptoms, and it also connects them, through a directorate of doctors and hospitals," he said.

Ghanaian greats

President Mahama also mentioned the names of some Ghanaian greats that had gone through Oxford including Dr K.A. Busia, Prime Minister of the second Republic, Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, former President Kufuor and wondered how many people were aware of their stories.

New borders

Mr Mahama said the physical borders in Africa drawn by the colonial masters were no longer the points of divisiveness among Africans.

"There are new borders being drawn every day - by religious intolerance, by economic disparity, by gender discrimination, by xenophobia and ethnic conflicts, and by terrorism, hatred and fear," he explained

The challenge, he said, was to erase them to further advance the cause of the continent. – Graphiconline