The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has revamped its website. The site, www.sadc.int, was launched at the SADC Secretariat Head Office in Gaborone, Botswana.
The older website, which started in 1996, was previously outdated and difficult to navigate. The newer version now has a clean, easy to use design that is in line with the rapidly evolving world of technology.
Launched under the banner Our Face to the World, the website is more outwardly focused and aims to engage SADC member states, regional stakeholders and citizens. To further ensure efficient dissemination of information, the site, which is currently in English, is being translated into French and Portuguese.
Speaking at the launch, SADC Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration, Ms Emilie A. Mushobekwa explained how the project, which commenced in March this year, took off. “In December 2011, the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) approved a request for financial and technical support to carry out this major review and upgrade. A consultancy contract was awarded to Hatfield Consultants Africa (HCA) with support from GIZ,” she said.
HCA Director, Simon Hughes, gave a brief presentation of the website, explaining that it was ranked against organisations such as COMESA, EAC, NEPAD and the AU, all of which have commendable websites. He added that the new SADC website took into account four main elements: navigation, visual appeal, strong messages and design. Like most large organisations, the new SADC website will also be making maximum use of social media such as Face Book and Twitter, in order to reach expand its reach and target a younger audience. Hughes said that smart phone applications were also in the pipeline.
Expressing gratitude to the Government of Germany through GIZ for its support and HCA for its world-class delivery, SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomao emphasised the need for the website to be properly maintained and fed with information. This, he said, would prevent it from going stale and needing to be re-launched in a few years.
Following the launch, SADC held a media workshop entitled Building Bridges between Users and Producers of Statistics, facilitated by senior statistician Daniel Byk and economist Thierry Paccoud.
The workshop, which engaged journalists and economists from Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, focused on using macro-economic data as a public good. Hence, journalists were taught the basics of economic data and indices, while economists were briefed in basic journalism practices such as press conferencing and reporting. What resulted was a dialogue between the two fields that encouraged mutual respect between each profession and the importance of releasing economic data to the public through sound reporting and proper analysis of data. Subjects included foreign direct investment and SADC statistical needs.