Statement by the UN Resident Coordinator at Saint Augustine University - 3 July 2018

 

Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Tanzania

 

Speech for Mr. Alvaro Rodriguez

Resident Coordinator of the UN System at the Saint Augustine University in Mwanza on 3rd July 2018

 

 

Vice Chancellor, Reverend Dr. Thadeus Mkamwa,

The Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, Dr. Anne Gongwe,

DVCAA Professor Pontien Ndabaneze,

Regional Commissioner of Mwanza, my friend Hon, John Mongella,

All Academicians from Saint Augustine and participating Universities,

Colleagues and practitioners from Media Houses,

Students present,

Invited Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Habari za Asubuhi and good morning.

 

On behalf of the UN Family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the St. Augustine University for inviting the UN to attend this Conference on Media and Industrialization.

It is indeed a great honour for myself and the UN to be part of this very important event for us but also to the Government of Tanzania, the Media Fraternity and the Community at large.

When I received the first email from Dr. Tibaijuka, I could not turn down the event after noting that the conference theme was pretty much the same as how the UN works with the media in influencing policy makers toward industrialization in Tanzania. Let me congratulate the organizing committee for coming up with a clever theme that resonates with many people and organizations including the United Nations.

At the United Nations, we have been promoting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in which the goals for Industrialization and Partnership are among them. The UN promoted the Global Goals around Tanzania, with a focus on Youth who are increasingly the policy makers of now and the future. Saint Augustine in Mwanza was among the Universities which benefitted from the training of the Youth Champions; and I am happy to say as of today we have reached over 50,000 youth around Tanzania.  (One of them from SAUT is Mr. Julius Kiting’ati who is present today).

I am pleased to inform you that the Saint Augustine University has been in our minds for a long time. At the United Nations in Tanzania, we have around 20 UN Communications and Information officers, of which half of them have studied at Saint Augustine. This is commendable and an opportunity for even greater partnerships.

Moving on to the theme of the conference, I would like to address three points: First, the United Nations and industrialization; second, the changing nature of industrialization; and third, the changing nature of the media in the 21st century. The latter two processes are inextricably related and how they may interact may provide avenues to enhance our understanding.

 

The UN and Industrialization

The United Nations has been a promoter of development from its inception in 1945. The UN was born from war and has a key mandate to promote peace, but it was based on an understanding that peace and security cannot be ensured without proper development of all peoples and all nations. And that this cannot happen without human rights.

For this reason, a lot of the work that the UN does is linked to supporting countries move up the productivity ladder from agricultural economies to industrial and service economies. As such, industrialization is one of our priorities and we have several UN agencies that work on this. For example, we have UNIDO, UNDP and FAO which engage actively on industrialization issues.

National efforts do not happen in a vacuum and there is considerable international competition between countries. This has meant that while some have prospered others have been left behind and we continue to see great disparities in the level of development of countries. There is also an important process of learning in these national experiences as the recipe that may work well in one country may not work so well in another given its natural or human resource endowments.

It has been especially hard for many former colonies to develop their societies and economies to their full potential. This should not surprise us. And I think it helps to explain the great interest of post-colonial leaders in Africa to try out new approaches to economic development. Some worked and some did not. Much has been written about Ujama Socialism for example both in Tanzania and internationally.

The UN has continued to support national development efforts over the last 7 decades. Most of our work is through government as the United Nations is an inter-governmental body. Much of our attention is at the policy level. Often we will get engaged at grassroots levels to try out a technology or methodology, but we are not structured or mandated specifically to do this. This sometimes causes confusion in the public as they often would rather have us operate as a Bank or an Innovation Fund, but that is not what we are.

Currently in Tanzania our efforts are aimed at supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and one of the goals deals with industrial development. But there are 17 goals in total and the agenda is broad. Interestingly, all 17 goals are related to each since many decades of experience suggest that one must take a holistic approach to sustainable human development. As part of our work, we have assisted the government of the United Republic and in Zanzibar to formulate policies and programmes that support the SDGs.

 

The Different Industrial Revolutions

Industrialization is an important concept and despite its apparent simplicity it is indeed complex. Prof. Klaus Schwab of Davos, whom many of you may know about, has argued that what we are seeing currently is now a Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first focused on the use of water and steam power to mechanize production and dates a few hundred years. The second used electric power to mechanize production and dates over 100 years . The third focused on the digital revolution in recent decades. In fact, most countries are still in this third industrial revolution.

But there is a fourth revolution. It is the revolution that we hear about every day that addresses the blurring of lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. Whether it is the internet, medicine, artificial intelligence, e-shopping, 3 D printing or things of that nature, we are seeing processes that are changing the way we understand industrialization.

It is important then to realize that in countries that are developing, you may have several of these industrial revolutions existing and we must be clear in terms of what we aim to achieve nationally. For the marginalized rural areas, the second industrial revolution around electricity and power is already a major step ahead. In urban areas and learning centres, the third and fourth industrial revolutions are probably present. All deserve attention but our goals must be clear. Is is exports? Is it jobs? Is it leap-frogging technologically like we have done with mobile phones? Is it balanced developed across regions, or maybe focusing on the most poor, or maybe the best endowed? Is it gender equality and women’s economic empowerment? It is probably a combination of several of these and this makes the processes and use of scarce resources at national level very significant indeed.

 

Industrialization and the Media

Because of their impact, these industrial revolutions are changing the way citizens interact with government, how they voice their opinions and how they come together to address issues that a group of citizens may wish to address. And because of this, we must bring in the media as an important focus of attention in our discussion. Poor marginalized rural communities are different in approach than young educated but unemployed youth in urban areas. But they are all equal citizens  before the law and they all deserve the fruits of development.

Media as we all know, both shapes and reflects culture. Indeed, media can help shape attitudes and perceptions and can therefore be a tool of great social progress or a danger to society as can be seen when it becomes a tool of hatred or racism.

We would suggest that the media has several critical roles:

  • Raise awareness about what exactly is industrialization, the forms it can take, and the costs, for example on the environment;
  • Discuss alternative experiences of countries or even regions to assess what may work best in terms of national goals;
  • The goals of industrialization can vary, so the media can also raise questions and support discussions on the different objectives one may seek to achieve nationally;
  • Industrialization is one goal, but societies have many. The media could explore how industrialization is linked to social, environmental and gender issues and challenges;
  • And the media can help assess at local level how national policies are being implemented.

I am sure there are many other things media practitioners could assist with.

Significantly, I see an important link that can be made between the media and learning institutions. Media practitioners cannot be experts on every subject. They must rely on the knowledge of others, especially in higher learning institutions. It may be desirable to strengthen the links between media and universities such as these. Knowledge in my view is the most important ingredient for the development of a country and also for industrialization. Lets make knowledge more readily accessible to everyone, especially the media which can reach citizens across the breadth and depth of this country.

And the government must be part of all of these efforts, a well informed, knowledgeable society is a country’s most important asset and both universities such as these and the media are critical to this.

 

Allow me to switch into Kiswahili to make an important point: TUFANYE YA WAKATI, WAKATI TUNA WAKATI, UTAKUJA WAKATI, TUKITAKA KUFANYA YA WAKATI, WAKATI HATUNA WAKATI. WAKATI NI HUU KUHAKIKISHA VYOMBO VYA HABARI VINAKUWA SEHEMU YA MABADILIKO KWA WATUNGA SERA, ILI KUFIKIA MAENDELEO ENDELEVU YA VIWANDA TANZANIA.

Let me end by one of the Late Mwalimu Nyerere famous quote “KUPANGA NI KUCHAGUA”