On Monday, 12 sports journalists will kick off an ambitious programme sponsored by world football's governing body FIFA to provide mid-career training to more than 300 reporters and photographers across Africa.
The programme is part of FIFA's "Win in Africa with Africa" development programme, launched after South Africa was selected to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
The courses will be run by the AFP Foundation, the international training arm of Agence France-Presse, one of the three largest global news agencies, and co-financed by the European Union.
"The FIFA World Cup, using the power of football to achieve positive change in the world, shall leave a lasting legacy. It is therefore a great pleasure for FIFA each time we can kick off a project of our 'Win in Africa with Africa' programme. The media in Africa will play a key role in linking all of the continent's people with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Consequently, FIFA is particularly proud to help provide high-quality journalism courses for African media in association with the AFP Foundation and the European Commission," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
The first courses will be held at the Diambars Institute near the coastal resort of Saly, about 70 kilometres south-west of Dakar. Facilities have been made available thanks to the generosity of the Senegalese Football Association, one of eight national associations in Africa which have agreed to support the programme.
French-speaking reporters from Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo will take part in the first week-long session, starting on May 18.
"This is the most ambitious project undertaken by the AFP Foundation since it was set up in July 2007 and it gives me great satisfaction," said the agency's chief executive, Pierre Louette.
"We will be working in four languages - Arabic, English, Portuguese and French - and bringing together young journalists from 46 African countries. We hope that our training courses will not only enhance their professional skills but also create lasting friendships."
The EU Development Commissioner, Louis Michel, said: "The European Commission is pleased to be associated with 'Win in Africa with Africa'. The training of journalists is an important first step towards the World Cup in 2010. This is part of the commission's efforts to ensure the image of a modern Africa becomes more widespread. It is also a symbol of the strategic relationship being built between the two continents of Europe and Africa."
Other sessions will take place this month and in early June in Abuja, Cairo, Johannesburg, Libreville, Maputo, Nairobi and Rabat. A total of 137 reporters and 15 photographers have been selected for the first round of training; more courses will be held towards the end of the year and in 2010.