Switzerland's overseas development agency has launched a campaign aimed at raising public awareness of South African President Thabo Mbeki's vision of an African Renaissance with a new multimedia Internet website.This content was published on July 17, 2000 - 07:47
Posters advertising the new website with photos of smiling Africans in brightly-coloured clothes were put up across the country on Monday. They carry slogans, such as: "Most Africans are committed to democracy" and "Most African countries live in peace".
"This campaign should turn the clichés on their heads, it should show that the world has reached Switzerland, that we live among these people and that they bring us many positive things," said Harry Sivec, spokesman for the agency.
"We are trying to counter the image of Africa as a continent of disasters, wars, famines and AIDS. It's important for the public to realise that, although we are not in the EU (European Union) or the UN (United Nations), Switzerland is open-minded and involved in international aid and development," Sivec said.
Berne plans to spent SFr200 million on development and humanitarian aid this year. The development agency is spending SFr1 million on the campaign, including funding for several cultural events such as exhibitions of African art, and African music festivals. It is also launching a multimedia website with articles, information and links.
African countries welcomed the initiative. One African diplomat said: "This (campaign) shows they are in favour of the rebirth taking place in Africa".
swissinfo with agencies
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