THE biggest threat to African media is the powerful foreign media that overshadows it and sets the tone for the agenda on African issues, James Musoni, the Minister of Local Government has said.
Musoni made the remarks at the opening of the African Editors Forum in Kigali yesterday. Speaking to over 200 media practitioners, including editors, media house owners and politicians from over 20 countries, Musoni challenged media practitioners in Africa to adopt strategies of telling Africa's story instead of letting the west to set the agenda on African issues.
"The media in Africa continues to be bogged down by a number of challenges, including internal weaknesses and limited investment. But the biggest problem African media face now is the powerful foreign media that overshadows our own and sets the tone for the agenda on African issues. We need African media to transform and tell our own story from our own perspective," Musoni said.
The forum is deliberating on the way forward for African media. Co-hosted by the Rwanda Editors' Guild and the Eastern Africa Editors' Forum, the two-day bi-annual Forum is focused on the defence and promotion of media freedom and independence in Africa.
Musoni said the forum is an opportunity to agree on strategies to advance media in Rwanda.
"This offers a great opportunity for the government, private sector and civil society to sit together and agree on strategies to advance media in our country," Musoni added.
He added that the government of Rwanda adopted key policy decisions in the recent past to transform the media sector, as well as to pave way for self regulation in print media.
Parliament is about to promulgate an access to information law and the state broadcaster is undergoing transformation into a public broadcaster, he said.
"We hope that these reforms combined with other innovations will spur our media industry on a course towards total transformation."
Participants deliberated on issues concerning press freedom as well as access to finance, which were noted as the key challenges facing media houses in Africa.
"Many African states still lack legal frameworks that protect the independence of media. So you find that they are challenged with making quality products that are appealing to financing institutions and advertising companies. The governments need to adjust and know that media freedom is part of a state's development and provide everything in their power to help media houses move forward," Mamadou Ibra Kane, Director General Futtus Media in Senegal, said.
The second day of the meeting will feature debates between media practitioners and politicians, with expected outcomes including the realisation of a self-sustaining and inter-related African media regulatory body.