9 November 2012

Africa: Senegal - African Media Leaders Forum - the Troubling Issue of the Media Financing

Nairobi — African media meet serious problems to access to financing. Many obstacles rise on the path leading to financial resources A serious blow for the durability of the media.

Show jumping. Access to financing represents a serious obstacle course for the African media leaders. It is acknowledged by the panel held in the framework of the 5th edition of the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) currently held in Dakar, Senegal, from 7th to 9th November 2012.

Sharing her experience, Cameroon's journalist, Marie Roger Biloa recalled the constraints which she met while expanding her magazine.

After having expressed her financial needs to the bank, she was tasked to provide a guarantee. And she replied that her magazine has been existing for 8 years and it has achieved fame. But this argument didn't convince the bankers. Discouraged, the media specialist turned to friends and philanthropists.

"An investment is necessary to expand the magazine. But for the bank the media is not profitable. Our press organs need to expand for their durability. We want to deal with ambitious partners who want to achieve something big", Cameroon's journalist and founder of the Africa International group said. Marie Roger Biloa confessed being inspired by big groups such as CNN. A big size of the media should make them more attractive, she hopes. She lamented the fact that their partners recognize the strength of the media, but do not translate into financing their projects.

Learn from the French financing model

It proves very difficult for African media to be financed by the banks. However Le Monde, Libération, le Figaro secure a lot of funds from their government, Marie Roger Biloa said. But a panelist told her that the happy givers (heads of state, ministers, etc.), may be tempted to transform the media they finance to serve as sound box, or instruments of propaganda.

Seizing the opportunity Marie Roger Biloa has remarked that the public funds don't belong to political leaders but to the tax-payers. In this regard the media sponsors should logically claim and profit from them in order to expand their press organs. She has explained that French newspapers such as le Monde, Libération, le Figaro secure public funds but keep their independence.

This didn't prevent Mr Eric Charas, managing director of Verdale in Mozambique to underline that some media are afraid of reporting the truth, because their criticism may cause banks or ministers to stop financing. In the same vein another participant has declared that people don't finance media to avoid ruffling leaders and loosing by the way their markets.

To avoid these obstacles, Bobby Pittman of Kupanda Capital (in Washington), stressed the importance of having investing partners. Se one who understands well your corporate spirit can accept to finance you.

Shifting from Analogic to Digital

Seize the opportunity offered by digitalization to build business in the media

A Cameroonian speaker thinks that it is necessary to seize this opportunity, meaning the digitalization to build business in the media.

The shift from Analogic to Digital would offer new opportunities. In this regard the Cameroonian participant stressed that the digital dividend may contribute to the financing of the media. "Media industry, means industry of the services", he said while suggesting to states to implement policies so as improve the gathering and release of news.

On his part a Senegalese participant has stressed that the financing issue in Africa represent a matter of economic sovereignty. Banks in Africa are led by foreign capitals. That's why they don't manage properly the question of financing in Black Africa. "Banks neither finance media nor the poor. It is the very development model in Africa that needs to be rethought," the Senegalese participant insisted on.

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