I am once again in Grahamstown in South Africa for the Highway Africa conference. This gathers journalists from the African continent and interested parties from around the world.
It is raining. As one of the conference organizers put it:
"We have English weather under an African sky"
Yesterdays opening ceremony was, as is usual for these things, speeches from sponsors. It was made more bearable for me because I had started "socializing" (read boozing) with Vincent Maher, director of the New Media Lab at Rhodes university, and some of (in the end most of) his students - at 10 in the morning, directly after a panel discussion on SAFM around the issues of media in the digital age. Being Irish I was forced to drink Jamesons. This cultural pressure continued all day till after midnight.
From this mornings session the thing that has stuck is a remark by Dali Mpofu, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the SABC, ...
He said that he was worried about the technology being hijacked by the forces of reaction and that government must regulate to see that this does not happen.
I find this very worrying. Here we have the head of a public service broadcaster giving not only tacit approval but actually pushing for more government regulation.
We do not need more regulation, we need more participation. We need to increase the number of voices heard, the number of stories told, the sorts of faces seen. We need to facilitate the free flow of information. Not to give regulatory control to governments but giving informational control to users.