INFRASTRUCTURE is the buzzword in Africa today, rightly a top priority for many governments, and billions of dollars worth of investment over the past few years.
But it’s often a difficult story for journalists to tell in an interesting way; roads, railways and power lines just don’t make for snazzy headlines and intrigue like politics does, or stir the emotions like sports.
Even visually, infrastructure projects tend to be grey and concrete - and “boring” to look at.
But one graphic journalist from Kenya managed to tell the story of Nairobi’s transport sector in an intriguing way, and was awarded the GE Energy & Infrastructure Award at this year’s CNN Multichoice African Journalist awards for it.
Paul Kalemba - known by his pen name Maddo - who works freelance for The Standard newspaper, won the award for his piece “Sorting out Nairobi Transport” which was chosen from entries from 39 nations across the African continent.
The award was presented by Jay Ireland, President and CEO of GE Africa, at a gala ceremony hosted by CNN and Multichoice at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, in Nairobi.
The judging panel said: “It is the first time we have awarded a piece of graphic journalism. Infrastructure is an important topic but it is very a difficult story to make interesting and Paul Kelemba has succeeded.”
Kalemba used a full-page graphic in the Saturday edition of the Standard to paint a scenario of how Nairobi’s epic transport problems could be solved. His vision included trams, subways, buses and pedestrianised areas to illustrate the various transport options facing one of Africa’s leading cities.
“The graphic is humorous as he pokes gentle fun at his fellow Nairobians and the people who run the city. A popular winner, we hope that by showcasing graphic journalism, more young artists will turn their attention to using their craft for this exciting new form of journalism,” the judging panel said.
The Director of Communications for GE Africa Patricia Obozuwa said journalists play a vital role in setting the right policy agenda for respective governments all over the world by their work.
“Paul Kalemba’s award winning entry is a typical example of the power of journalism to redirect public focus to the topical issues. We are glad to be associated with the Energy and Infrastructure category of the CNN Awards.
“By their respective entries in this category, journalists are certainly helping to highlight infrastructural issues that can become a call-to-action for stakeholders and governments,” said Obozuwa.
READ MORE AT: GE Reports Sub-Saharan Africa