Governments in East Africa and the media need not be adversaries as is sometimes the case, Rwandan president Paul Kagame has advised.
"They can be partners without either compromising the independence and effectiveness of the other," Kagame stated.
He made the call in a keynote address at the fifth East African Business Council Media Summit at the Serena Hotel in Kigali last night.
He said the media was crucial in holding governments to account, telling the story of East Africa's integration and eclipsing the "biased" reporting on the region by the international media.
"For far too long the international media, with its own objectives, has dominated the region and set the news agenda. This often means that they tell our story from their perspective at best and, at worst, distort it all together.
"As has become all too evident in our region, such misrepresentation derails our progress or even fuels conflict and other problems that destroy our gains. This is made worse when our own media either remain silent or just relay the same stories told from a biased standpoint, perpetuating these views imposed from outside," Kagame explained.
He said by holding both governments and citizens to account, "a responsible media will promote our core values, good governance and democracy on which a successful integration can best be built."
Kagame pointed out that there are interesting and relevant stories in the region that do not get the coverage they deserve.
He listed the steady progress the East African Community (EAC) has made, with protocols on the Customs Union, Common Market, free movement of people and capital and the on-going talks about the monetary union and movement towards a political federation.
"When we build stronger professional and business partnerships with the media, there should be an improvement in accurate and positive reporting about what East Africans are doing to make integration move even faster than it is doing," the president advised.
At the climax of the ceremony, journalists who outshone others in reporting about the activities of the East African Community integration received awards.