UCU hosts East African communications conference

A lot of breath and ink have already been spent on discussing how the Covid-19 crisis has impacted both the media industry and training institutions. New information has been shared and strategies applied by scholars, researchers and policy makers in these fields. The pandemic and its necessary and mandated safety protocols have yielded constant dialogue to discuss solutions for a new-normal of problems that have daunted the media and communication landscape, in Africa and all the world, since March 2020.

Enriching the discussion and response, the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication (FJMC) will host the 10th Annual East African Communication Association (EACA) Conference, October 14-16, 2021. The virtual conference will run on the theme, “Re-imagining Media and Communication in a Pandemic Context.”

According to the call for presentations, the event seeks to “explore how media and communication actors can re-imagine and redefine the future of journalism and communication through critical conversation on media and communication industry in a context variously impacted by the Covid-19.” Media and communication experts, researchers, academics, policy makers, regulators and media practitioners from East Africa and beyond will speak.

The keynote speakers and their topics are:

  • Mr. Joel Kibazo, formerly Director of Communication and External Relations at African Development Bank, discussing insights and foresights on the future of the media and communication.
  • Professor Guy Berger George, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, addressing “Freedom of Information in Light of Covid-19 Media Dynamics”;
  • Professor George Morara Nyabuga, scholar from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, addressing “Law and Political Landscape of the Media”; and

According to Dr. Emilly Comfort Maractho, the Director of UCU Africa Policy Center, who also is Convener of the Conference, as many as 40 presenters will share perspectives and replicable models before an audience of roughly 100 professionals working in the fields of journalism and communications and academics as well as students, among others. The conference will generate research papers and presentations for publication in scholarly journals such as the African Journal of Communication.

Reinforcing the value of student engagement, Dr. Maractho said, “Young people need to be involved in such Conferences so that they can learn how the experts they encounter during the conference succeeded in the field of Media and Communication.”

She says the organizing committee is discussing an exclusively subsidized registration fee for students, especially for those in journalism and communication, both at UCU and around Africa. More information about the registration process will be sent to the participants between now and October 14.

Professor Monica Chibita, the Dean of FJMC, believes it is rewarding for her faculty to host the 10th EACA.  “Hosting the conference is a sign of trust from Communication academics in the region,” she said. “It gives us great opportunities to consider collaborative and comparative research across the region.”

That the conference is happening virtually for the first time and UCU is hosting it, is symbolic of confidence in the University’s E-service delivery capacity and infrastructure that has gotten stronger during the pandemic. “Opportunities to host such a huge conference elevates our branding, in that we are exposed to big, diverse networks of academics and institutions with whom we can create meaningful partnerships, because they now will know about UCU,” says Frank Obonyo, the Communication Manager at UCU.

More specifically, the conference will also attract regional publicity for UCU’s FJMC not only as a giant at training world-class journalism and communication students, but also as an institution that continuously “re-engineers” itself to meet the demands of the dynamic media industry.

EACA was established in 2011 to serve as a platform for media and communications experts, researchers, academics, policy makers, regulators and media practitioners in Eastern Africa and beyond. Since its inception in 2011, EACA conferences have happened in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. This is not the first time UCU FJMC is hosting this conference, since it hosted the 2014 conference and in 2016 id so, in collaboration with Makerere University Department of Journalism and Communication. However, it is the first time UCU is hosting the EACA Conference as a Faculty — not a Department of Mass Communication. Perhaps the next time UCU hosts the conference, the Faculty will have morphed into a School because arrangements for that are underway.