BBC Africa Debate launches from Accra

BBC Africa Debate will focus on issues of pan-African as well as global significance. The theme of our very first debate is reform and political transition."Stephane Mayoux, BBC Africa Current Affairs Editor
Date: 20.01.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.00
Category: World Service
A sub-Saharan "African Spring”? This is the theme of the inaugural edition of the new BBC World Service global monthly programme, BBC Africa Debate, which will be broadcast from Accra, Ghana, on Friday 27 January.

A year ago, when the protesters took to the streets in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, there were expectations of the Arab Spring spreading down the river Nile. There have been pockets of protests and demonstrations in several sub-Saharan African countries, many of them related to harsh economic conditions and poor governance. While ripple effects from the Arab Spring are visible in sub-Saharan Africa - home to some of the world's longest-serving and oldest leaders - the protests haven't resulted in any change of leadership.

In the inaugural edition from Accra, the presenter of BBC Africa Debate, Alex Jakana, teams up with Sam Farah, BBC Arabic presenter, to ask the panellists and the audience whether Africa is ready for a democratic leap forward, why there has been no "Spring" - and whether an “African Spring” would be useful or, indeed, necessary.

Commenting on the programme's launch from Accra, BBC Africa Current Affairs Editor, Stephane Mayoux, says: "BBC Africa Debate will focus on issues of pan-African as well as global significance. The theme of our very first debate is reform and political transition. Those issues are already being hotly debated across social-media platforms in Africa. Ghana, with its tradition of pan-Africanism, its media freedom - and its reputation for encouraging political and economic reform in Africa - was an obvious choice as a launch-pad for BBC Africa Debate. We are looking forward to bringing this first edition from Accra."

Prominent Ghanaian politicians, academics, civil society activists, media personalities and students will be among the audience. The panel includes:

• Dr George Ayittey, Ghanaian economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC who has championed the argument that "Africa is poor because she is not free"

• Anne Mugisha, Ugandan opposition activist and coordinator of the Activists for Change movement that organised the "walk to work" protests in 2011 in Uganda

• Kuseni Dlamini, South African political analyst, who believes that Africa has already had its spring during the 1990s.

To further expand social-media commentary on BBC Africa Debate, the BBC has teamed up with Vote4Africa which uses Twitter to educate people about the democratic process in Africa. While @bbcafrica will host the social-media discussion on Twitter, @Vote4Africa will provide commentary and analysis using the programme's hashtag, #bbcafricadebate. Simultaneously, the BBC will be engaging in discussions with audiences via Facebook and Google+.

The first edition of BBC Africa Debate will be recorded at 10.00 on Friday 27 January at Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT, 2nd Avenue, Accra, and will be broadcast by BBC World Service at 19.00 GMT on the same day. Listeners can hear it on BBC 101.3 FM in Accra, BBC 104.7 FM in the Western Region and on any of the BBC's 18 partner stations across Ghana.

Each edition of BBC Africa Debate will be broadcast from a different location in Africa. Issues to be discussed in the coming months include land grabs, religious divisions, China’s role in Africa, and International Criminal Court’s “African” trials.

BBC World Service Publicity