April 22, 2008
D R A F T
Towards an International Strategy of Communication for Burundi
Results of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs–TFF seminar
Bujumbura March 19-20, 2008
1. What is the need of a communication strategy?
The overall objective is to formulate a Strategy of Communication for Burundi because we live in a world of globalizing communication in which Burundi should have a place. Its overarching aim is to associate the word “Burundi” with positive values such as peace, democracy and post-war development.
The purpose of the Strategy of Communication is to increase the international attention on Burundi and thereby obtain support for the peace process, for reconciliation, and development in the country and establish credibility at national, regional, and international levels.
The world should know that Burundi is becoming an Oasis of Peace after making important strides following the Arusha Peace Accord and successful democratic elections held in 2005. It needs to keep a political debate going and show progressive steps in its political development.
The Strategy is aimed at several international partners including the printed media, electronic media, radios and television, donor community, solidarity associations, parliamentarians and NGOs, etc. It should also serve to attract aid and assistance from, e.g. the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, as well as foreign investment.
Burundi has joined the East African Community and enjoys its support for democracy and economic integration within the community. The Strategy should highlight that Burundi is making a lot of efforts that deserve encouragements at national, regional and international levels.
Burundi’s International Strategy of Communication goal shall be carried by coordinated initiatives and activities by the Presidency, various Ministries and high political institutions such as the National Assembly, the Senate and Government striving together for a positive image that includes honest coverage also of the existing challenges in Burundi.
Burundi wants, through its strategy, to make the world conscious of its actions and political trend toward reconciliation through a systematic positive, comprhensive, sustained information activity – which shall be seen by recipients throughout the world as comprehensive, remarkable, honest and thus reliable.
2. What could be the main foci of the Strategy?
- The history and the culture of the country.
- The fact that the country has made remarkable progress in terms of peace-building, democratization, de-mobilization of soldiers, obtained a Constitution, held free and fair elections, etc.
- Burundi is a country in which the people have decided to stop violence, move on and live together basically through their own efforts.
- That Burundi struggles hard with many of the problems of underdevelopment and post-war reconstruction but has made remarkable progress already.
- That Burundi in many ways struggles to realize the idea of the modern welfare state with free health care and schooling at basic levels, and where values such as social justice, free media, and gender equality is systematically promoted in programs as well as concrete laws and directives.
- Again, that the country has made remarkable progress but also still has along way to go that merits and needs international attention and assistance.
- Also, the considerable future potential for attracting tourism, trade and investment, the beauty of the people and culture can be emphasized.
- Emphasis where relevant on Burundi as one country with regional, African continental and international-global relations.
- In sum, the overall “message” of any is that peace is unfolding, that the country moves forward through its own efforts, including for instance the Abashingantahe institution but also through, say, cooperation with the UN, the East African Community, etc.
3. Target groups
Important target groups would be – here given without priority:
Internal level: The citizens, political parties, civil societies, media (public or private)
External level The Burundi diaspora, bilateral and multilateral cooperation via diplomatic representatives, NGOs and solidarity associations.
Universities, institutions, researchers, consultants, church organizations.
Globally leading media that have focus on Africa, development and other relevant issues.
There is a philosophy behind this: The Strategy of Communication shall orient itself directly to media and thereby raise the awareness worldwide about Burundi as a positive story out of Africa. By increasing the quantity and controlling better the quality of Burundi’s media, there should be a boost in quality. You may say that effective “branding” of Burundi would help convince the world better about the country’s qualities and how it deserves attention and support.
4. Who must carry the Strategy of Communication
a. The Presidency
b. Vice presidencies
c. Legislative organs
d. The Ministry of External relations
e. The Ministry of Communication
f. The Ministry in charge of telecommunications
g. The Ministry of Energy
h. The Ministry of Trade
Task Force or Preparatory Committee
It shall be considered to set up a Task Force or institution to prepare for the setting up of a Coordination body including all actors in Burundi who will carry the day-to-day activities of the Strategy of Communication.
5. The methods and techniques to promote the international Strategy of Communication
- All the common diplomatic means already used
- Modern electronic and digital technology without which Burundi cannot be present in the globalising world / such as websites for each ministry, each embassy etc
- E-mail services according to selected target groups.
- Creation of blogs for individual ministries and high officials.
- Extensive use of photography from Burundi
- Extensive use of videos that can be embedded on any website and blogs and which could also be uploaded to Burundi’s future Channel on www.youtube.com
- Intensified coordination between stakeholders about timing and co/production of materials for the wider world
- Media monitoring / it is essential that the people who operate the Strategy of Communication have resources for monitoring what happens in the world and can tie Burundian information to events in the worldwide.
6. Some possible obstacles in the realization
- The awareness of decision makers
- Duplication of efforts in different ministries
- Coordination of communication among ministries
- The know how
- The political will and sensitization
- Technical equipment (computers, internet connection)
- Reading, writing and research work
- Language barrier, notably English
b. Good allocation of the budget
c. Continuous training
d. Professional communication and human resources in the right place
7. Training needs
- Methodology of research
- Technology: the use of computers and publication of works,
- The theory of communication-language, behaviour, attitudes, audience and expectations
- Partnership building
- Conflict analysis and resolution
- Leadership & management
- Economic recovery after the crisis.
8. Action Plan
The above offers some general overarching ideas of a Strategy. It is a proposal – a first step – and should be circulated to all relevant parties in Burundi.
It shall be elaborated, amended, revised and then decided upon by relevant institutions.
We suggest there be an Action Plan prepared that outlines what precise activities, according to a time table, shall be conducted in the next 6, 12, 18 and 24 months, with revisions as the process advances.
It is of utmost importance that the enthusiasm and vision of this seminar be acted upon immediately for the Strategy eventually to achieve results – results much needed to help the country and all Burundians to live a better life.
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