Africa's own CNN – a longstanding dream, which may soon become reality through the planned A24 channel.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Chris Cramer, former MD of CNN International, outlinesÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â the new channel's plans.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
The growth of 24-hour news channels across the world is accelerating at a staggering rate when you consider that only a few years ago the genre was dominated by CNN and the BBC. Russia, France and the Arabic world, through alJazeera, now have their own take on the world. If you add news and social networking websites then there is no shortage of global information out there.
But there is one yawning gap in this scenario — Africa. A continent of 54 nations and 10% of the world's population, yet it has no television news service to call its own. It relies on others to tell its stories and that is frequently dictated by the latest outbreak of war, natural disaster or government strife, all of which help to reinforce the notion that Africa is nothing but a basket case.
A new channel, A24, plans to change all that mostly through the efforts of Salim Amin, the son of the late Mohamed Amin, a Kenyan cameraman best known for his coverage of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. He teamed up with the BBC's Michael Buerk to show the world the extent of that country's suffering, which led to Live Aid and a huge global charity appeal.
Amin has been working with a handful of other journalists to raise the funds for Africa's first independent news channel.
For years this has been beyond the reach of any media organisation in Africa. Now, however, satellite and coverage costs, through new technology and the internet, make A24 a dream within reach. An announcement that the venture is ready to start is expected shortly.
The channel will offer breaking news, analysis and a platform for sharing ideas between Africans from across the continent and beyond. It will use a range of distribution methods and the channel bosses plan to encourage its audience to send user-generated content to its Nairobi headquarters.
Eventually, A24 will run 46 news bureaux across the continent. As well as reporting the big stories, they will focus on areas that all too often fail to make the news elsewhere — subjects such as business and economic growth, politics and governance, and healthcare and culture. A24 will cover the uplifting as well as the depressing news from Africa.
The channel will be editorially independent and plans to train its journalists through the A24 Foundation, with the help of Norway's Gimlekollen School of Journalism. The foundation will coordinate this training in cooperation with universities and institutes in South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya and other major TV news agencies.
A24 is in discussion with a wide range of international broadcasters and partners about content sharing, distribution and support.
The channel's founders, Amin and MD Daniel Rivkin, plan to roll the channel out both online and on teleÃƒâ€šÃ‚Âvision during next year.
"A24 will make a difference because it will create a new kind of voice," says Amin. "It will be truly African, beyond local politics and beyond prejudices."
Chris Cramer is editorial advisory board chair of A24 and former MD of CNN International