The media have been urged to re-brand Northern Ghana as an investment destination, full of untapped resources that urgently requires the attention of government and development partners to utilize for the alleviation of poverty in the area.
Professor Saa Ditto, a Senior Lecturer at the University for Development Studies observed that the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions have abundant minerals including gold, which could rapidly improve the lot of the people.
The Educationist was addressing a workshop in Tamale at the weekend for media practitioners from the three northern regions, organised by the Nu Image Communications, a non-governmental organisation on the theme: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Re-branding North; the role of the media.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Prof. Ditto, who spoke on economic, social and political opportunities in the North, observed that the nation does not understand its agricultural economy or deliberately skew its policy towards export crops, which contributes only 13 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a huge expenditure of about 40.6 per cent.
He said according to the 2000-2007 GDP, crops contributed about 66.7 per cent of the agricultural share of the economy and such crops were mainly produced in the North but ironically, infrastructural development was skewed to other parts of the country.
Prof. Ditto questioned the rationale for allowing market forces to determine the prices of shea nut and cotton, which are mainly produced in the North.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Until the government and the media change attitudes toward the Northern sector, the poor farmers who work harder, would continue to be poorerÃ¢â‚¬Â, he stressed.
Major A. B Don-Chebe (Retd), Corporate Affairs Director of Vodafone, a telecommunication company, noted that in the past, products and service branding was the norm but now, destination, country and place branding has become a popular tool for governments to increase their international profile and attract foreign direct investment to promote tourism and trade.
He urged the media to project the most positive image of the North to potential investors and tourists that would yield the people value for money.
Major Don-Chebe noted that the North needs massive infrastructural development, access to quality education and improved agriculture as the sure way to raise the standards of living and help curve the Southern drift of Northern youth.
The Northern Regional Minister Mr. Stephen Sumani Nayina in a speech read on his behalf said the media must focus on developmental issues and educate the public, instead of turning itself into an instrument of blackmail, intimidation and agent of confusion.
He urged journalists to be objective and investigate issues before publishing them.
The Executive Director for Nu Image Communications Mr. David Yaro said the organisation was committed to spearhead the re-branding of the North through consistent advocacy by using the media.
He urged the media to stop reporting on the negative sides of the North and concentrate on issues that would change public perception about the area.
Mr. Alhassan Imoro Editor of the Northern Advocate re-launched George Sygney AbugriÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s book Ã¢â‚¬Å“Letter to JomoÃ¢â‚¬Â which was originally launched in Accra early this year.
Mr. Alhassan who chaired the function asked journalists not to allow themselves to be used as mouth-pieces of politicians, but serve the people by bringing the challenges facing them to the attention of the government.