Last weekend, all roads led to Kigali for the 5th East African Media Summit.
The summit, organized by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat in collaboration with the East African Business Council, brought together over 200 media owners and managers of media houses from the five member states.
The summit, whose theme was "Harnessing the EAC Common Market for Media Enterprise and Freedom," was opened by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The Media Summit is an initiative by the East African Community Secretariat and the East African Business Council (EABC) to engage, in an annual forum, media owners, CEOs of media houses, publishers, editors, prominent media personalities, and the practitioners in the region on integration issues.
The objectives of the Media Summit are to update the media practitioners on the latest developments in the East African integration process; discuss the role of the media in promoting the EAC agenda and; work out concrete mechanisms for collaboration between the media industry and the EAC and EABC.
First held in Nairobi in 2007, subsequent summits have been held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2008), Kampala, Uganda (2009) and Nairobi (2011).
The summit had some exceptions among which was President Kagame attending twice. First at the opening session and on the second day he held a discourse with the media leaders.
The same summit also saw seven journalists receiving prizes at an EAC Media Awards Gala held at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
Participants at the Summit were equivocally unanimous about the critical and complimentary role that the media plays in driving the EAC integration process and opportunities.
The media was recognized as a means of communicating and being an advocate of the integration process. It was also seen as a catalyst of promoting core regional values, interests and governance towards successful political federation.
President Kagame reiterated that the media and governments should not be adversaries but can be partners without compromising each others independence. The highlight of the discourse was when he challenged local (regional) media players to avoid playing by the rules of foreign media which, "Tell our story from their perspective and distort it many times!"
East African Business Week, has been at the helm of regional integration. With a presence in all five member states, the paper has been at the helm of regional integration and has told the East African story with clarity, fairness, objectivity and been at the forefront of development reporting! We look forward to another great media year!