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New initiative from The ONE Campaign aims to bring African voices to the table as nations consider post-2015 development goals

“You Choose” backed by leading African celebrities such as Hugh Masekela, Lira, Jabulani Tsambo (aka ‘HHP’), D’banj, Benni McCarthy, Chris Katongo and others

Campaign leverages SMS technology to reach and survey ordinary citizens in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – As the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015, The ONE Campaign, an international grassroots advocacy backed by more than 3 million members worldwide, is launching a new initiative to make sure the world’s poorest people have a say in the development of the next set of goals to eradicate extreme poverty.

Dubbed “You Choose,” the campaign will reach millions of citizens in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia, with the hope that thousands will take advantage of this free opportunity to tell world leaders about their priorities. In South Africa, radio spots prompt listeners to participate in the poll by texting ‘VOICE’ to 30667 for free. Different numbers will be used in Malawi and Zambia. Citizens are then asked “what can the govt do to help improve your family & friends’ future?” and encouraged to text back their top concern, such as education, health, corruption, food, etc.

“The hard data about people’s biggest concerns and priorities will then be presented at the UN’s meeting of the High Level Panel on the new development framework at the end of March in Bali, Indonesia,” says ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo.

The “You Choose” campaign, with support from the Omidyar Network, features some of Africa’s best-known celebrities such as musicians Lira, Hugh Masekela, Jabulani Tsambo (aka ‘HHP’) and D’banj, as well as football stars Benni McCarthy and Chris Kantongo. These high-profile Africans have recorded messages urging people to join the fight against extreme poverty and send their views via SMS. The spots will be aired on various national radio stations in South Africa, Zambia and Malawi starting on 30 January.

Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Hugh Masekela called the initiative an “excellent opportunity for Africans to speak up on the path they want their destiny to take.”

“We are not leaving this matter only to experts sitting in board rooms,” he said. “No one understands Africa better than Africans themselves. ONE is asking for nothing more than your voice. You will be heard. Your voice can make a difference. Speak up… or rather, start texting.”

According to Dr. Moyo, only 16.5 million Africans had mobile phones when the original MDGs were designed in 2000. Now, she says, there are 650 million mobile phones in use, and this explosion in information and connectivity allows us to learn first-hand what priorities Africans believe the new development agenda should include.

“In the new Africa, technology is turbocharging our drive for socioeconomic transformation,” she says. “ONE’s promise to every African citizen who speaks up is this: We will make sure your voice will be heard by world leaders. And acted upon.”

“You Choose” is being supported by: Mxit, Media Institute of Southern Africa’s Zambia and Malawi chapters, Economic Justice Network (EJN), Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), Civil Society of Agriculture Network (CISANET), Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), the Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Committee (NGOCC) and the Zambia council for Social Development.

Just as ONE is pressing to open the process for citizens views to be heard, the organization has also just published a report demanding these principle of openness and transparency be at the heart of the new development goals through our report launched for the Monrovia High Level Panel meeting. The report, ‘Open for Development,’ makes five concrete recommendations to the High Level Panel to ensure greater transparency in both the design and implementation of the post- 2015 goals.


Co-founded by Bono and strictly non-partisan, The ONE Campaign is three million people and growing every day who take action together to end extreme poverty, particularly in Africa … because we believe where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live. Our teams educate, advocate, lobby and collaborate to spotlight solutions – while our members around the globe call, write, rally and raise their voices as ONE to push for progress – on global funding, expanded efforts to treat and stop the spread of AIDS and other preventable diseases, critical investments in agriculture and nutrition, and greater transparency. We’re halfway home: extreme poverty has been cut in half … and as ONE, we’re redoubling our actions to bring us ever closer to its end. Learn more at www.one.org.