Journalists appeal for free access to technical information By ESTHER TOLA in Cotonou | Friday, November 30  2012 at  16:17

West African science journalists with Benin's minister for Communication Max Ahouèkè (centre) during a forum in Cotonou  ESTHER TOLA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

West African science journalists have appealed to the public and private research institutions in the region to allow them unrestricted access to technical information.

They observed that journalists played a crucial role in the development of the continent, hence the need for support by other institutions.

The journalists issued the statement after a conference in Cotonou, Benin that brought them together under the theme: “Science Journalism as Driving Force of Sustainable Development in West Africa.” The meeting brought together 50 science journalists, communicators and researchers from seven African countries.

It was organised by the Benin Science Journalists’ Association (AJCSB) in partnership with other similar associations in other parts of Africa.

The final statement called the Cotonou Declaration, urged science journalists to cooperate to disseminate the findings of scientific researches.

“Many researches were conducted in West Africa on environment or climate change issues, but populations were not aware of them,” said AJCSB President Christophe Assogba.

“As science journalists, it is our role to create awareness about the findings," he said.

“Africans share certain issues that cut across the geographical borders,'' said Kenyan journalist Ochieng' Ogodo, who is also the sub-Saharan News Editor for science information website SciDev.Net.

“I’d like to see a situation where science journalists from all parts of Africa work together for the betterment of the continent in terms of giving people solid information that will enable them make good choices for themselves,” Mr Ogodo added.

The forum also appealed for international activities in the West African region to encourage the inclusion of science journalism component.

The newly created Forum of West African Science Journalists is expected to meet at the end of January 2013 in Lomé, Togo.