BY BRIDGET GAPARE
VICE-President Constantino Chiwenga on Monday called for the support of The Africa Factbook project that is being spearheaded by local publishing company, Book of African Records (BAR) saying the project can inspire African mental emancipation.
Chiwenga made the remarks addressing both international and local delegates as he offically opened the one-day Africa Factbook International Stakeholders Consultative Conference at Harare International Conference Centre.
The project of The African Factbook, is set to contain useful facts about Africa and its people for purposes of information dissemination, education, entertainment, reference, statistics and documentation is being implemented by the BAR on the strength of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Africa Union.
“The African Factbook project is a brave march towards African mental emancipation as African was faced with a common serious challenge of distorted information about and knowledge of the African Heritage,” he said.
“In some cases, data is just not available. Perhaps this is because most African knowledge is not documented. Whenever it is, the story in most cases would have been written by non-Africans based on non-African sources.”
Chiwenga said lack of facts about Africa tends to adversely affect planning and monitoring of projects, tourism, exploitation of trade and investment opportunities, education and cooperation.
“The narrative about our unique heritage must be constructed more by our collective knowledge about ourselves than by that of others. The African Factbook project presents us with a great opportunity to present and promote an Afro-centric view of African phenomena as an alternative to the predominant biased and stereotyped views about Africa,” he said.
He added the prevailing information gaps and ignorance about Africa retard and stifle development efforts across the continent adding that to ensure that African Factbook positively impacts the lives of ordinary Africans across the continent it must be greatly supported.
“To close the gaps and reduce ignorance about Africa, there is need to document facts, statistics, date and information to make them readily accessible to potential users and researchers.”
Chiwenga said the publishing of African Factbook will enable Africans to own their story and guard against inputs based on interests that are not African,” said Chiwenga.
“Africa Factbook should thus serve as a one-stop-shop for data about Africa, with much potential for improving the ease of doing business and reducing its cost. Ready availability of facts about Africa will no doubt help to unlock the potential of inter-African investment, including by Africans in the Diaspora.”
He said the Africa Factbook project idea and its potential unifying thrust towards consolidating knowledge of and pride in Africa must commendable as recognised and acknowledged by the AU Commission as reflected in Article 25 of the Resolution of a meeting of its Specialised Technical Committee on Communication and ICT in Addis Ababa last year.
“It cannot be denied that many benefits will accrue from the use of from the use of the Africa Factbook. To ensure that African Factbook positively impacts the lives of ordinary Africans across the continent is therefore worthy of praise and greatly to be supported,” he said.
BAR founder and editor-in-chief, Kwame Muzawazi said, “The conference facilitated dialogue on the process and benefits of compiling a home-grown reference source for Africa. The discussions provided a recommendation, networks and contacts for the purpose of funding, publishing, marketing, distribution and utilisation of the Africa Factbook across Africa and world-wide”.