The Highway Africa conference has gone international this year. The 16th edition of the largest annual gathering of African journalists and communications experts has partnered with the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), which will be co-hosting its third world conference with Highway Africa.

After a brief sojourn to Cape Town last year, Highway Africa (HA) is back to the familiar sights of Rhodes University in Grahamstown, and will run from 9 to 11 September.

Chris Kabwato, director of Highway Africa, said the involvement of GFMD follows the precedent set over the last three years where HA has partnered with a number of organisations to co-host one, two, or several conferences in one big tent.

Last year the Research Unit for Media in the Global South hosted the UNESCO Climate Change Colloquium with HA in Cape Town and in 2010, the World Journalism Educators’ Congress (WJEC) held its summit alongside the journalism conference.

The GFMD is set to add a different dimension to Highway Africa. According to Kabwato, delegates must expect GFMD “to bring great media-development related topics, great speakers and great networking opportunities.”

The GFMD brings together about 500 non-governmental media assistance organisations operating in around 100 countries across the six continents (particularly the global South) which support the development of independent media at the community, national and regional levels. The GFMD is a membership-driven organisation that seeks to solve the multiple challenges confronting media development workers around the world.

Director of GFMD, Bettina Peters, said that she is very pleased that the partnership with Highway Africa was worked because it’s the first time such a global media development event is held in Africa.

“This illustrates the sub-themes of our conference: Africa Rising and Giving Voice to a Changing World,” Peters said. “There has been tremendous development in African media over the last years and it is only fitting that the GFMD has chosen Africa as the place to debate media development strategies for the future.”