Remarks by Counselor for Public Affairs Roberto Quiroz II
at the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards 2019
Swiss Spirit Alisa Hotel, Accra
October 17, 2019
Media Foundation for West Africa Executive Director, Mr. Sulemana Braimah;
Minister of Information, the Honorable Kojo Nkrumah;
MFWA Board Chairman, Mr. Edetaen Ojo;
Distinguished journalists and guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,
Akwaaba! Welcome! Bienvenue! Bemvindos!
It is wonderful to see you united today, journalists from across West Africa gathered here in Accra!
Greetings from Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan, and welcome on her behalf! My name is Roberto Quiroz II, and I am the Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana. The Embassy of the United States of America is proud to extend its greetings to all Ghanaian journalists, and to wish them success in their work as vanguards of this nation’s democratic values and legacy, which has inspired the continent of Africa and beyond.
It is because we believe in this, and in the importance of your profession, that we are proud to be a part of the third edition of the Media Foundation for West Africa’s 2019 Media Excellence Conference and Awards, also known as WAMECA. A sponsor since its inception three years ago, we continue to support WAMECA because of the positive impact it is making in the field of journalism in Ghana and across the region.
Together with you, the United States values freedom of the press as a key component of democratic governance. An independent media committed to responsible, facts-based journalism is essential to promote democratic governance, transparency, and a well-informed, active citizenry engaged in holding government and all sectors accountable.
The theme for this year’s event, “Social Media, Fake News and Elections in Africa” is a very important and timely topic. With the advent of technologies that connect people across the world in nanoseconds and spread diverse news and messages, it is now more important than ever to be discerning consumers and producers of information.
In the same manner, in a free society, censorship is never an option. Freedom of communications is a right, not a privilege. We also remember that in many places around the world, journalists continue to face censorship, persecution, and even death. We stand with, and remember them, including Ahmed Hussein Suale. Their lives remind us that freedom of the press is a right for which many sacrifice, and which we must defend.
This past summer, we hosted an American journalist for a 10-day program titled, “Media for Democracy: Electoral Journalism in Times of Disinformation.” During the program, participants grappled with the dilemma of disinformation emanating from various social media platforms and how to separate fact from fiction when producing reports. Promoting press freedoms is an awesome responsibility for governments, journalists, and citizens. Identifying, analyzing, and distilling misinformation is important for all of us.
We hope that you enjoy a successful conference driven by productive discussions that lead to concrete solutions for journalists in West Africa and beyond. We salute your commitment to tell the story. As you go along on your professional journey, know that the United States of America stands with you.