Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote donated $20 million to help change narratives about Africa in the world. The donation was made to The Africa Center in New York, towards reversing the trend of negative news on Africa. Funding is the greatest challenge for media startups in the Global South, and there is need for local and international donors to invest in sustaining and growing media organisations in their work.
Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote donated $20 million to The Africa Center based in New York, with the aim of reversing the trend of negative perception of Africa across the world. Dangote's donation was made through the Aliko Dangote Foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported Dangote's vision by announcing a new $5 million grant at the Future Africa Forum.
According to the press release, "The Gates Foundation grant is directed to the Center's capital campaign and for the development of its policy initiatives".
The Africa Center is a non-profit institution focused on challenging historical stereotypes around the African continent and a hub for creating an intersection of African policy, business, and culture and recreating narratives about Africa's economic and cultural significance today and into the future.
While this grant would play a major role, it is not yet certain if it would support African based digital media outlets, which also concern themselves with correcting the negative perception of Africa by the outside world, and addressing historical revisionism.
Dangote said, "the Africa Center is showcasing Africa in a contemporary, multifaceted manner as a center of innovation, growth, and limitless potential, which makes this project extremely important".
The main hall at The Africa Center was named the Aliko Dangote Hall. "There is an opportunity to establish new narratives about Africa today, with its unrivaled mix of people, ideas, and resources, which are both its greatest strength and the basis for its tremendous, untapped promise. The connections The Africa Center will make between Africa, and the United States, and the rest of the world, including members of the Diaspora, are needed more now than ever before," Dangote said.
Funding: the greatest challenge for media startups in Global South
A new report published this year from Columbia University by lecturer Anya Schiffrin called "Fighting for Survival: Media Startups in the Global South" revealed that funding is the greatest challenge for media startups in Global South. The report focused on journalists exposing corruption and holding power to account in the global south, and the media practitioners interviewed say financing their operations is the biggest challenge, much bigger even than physical safety or political risk. The report revealed that for many of the organisations interviewed, supporting independent journalism with revenue from readers and advertisers does not work as a sustainable business model, thus donor funding is needed to support the important work.
Schiffrin interviewed dozens of media startups in the global south over time, and concluded that many media startup organisations are not financially viable without donor support. The report suggested that international donors should invest in sustaining and growing these organisations in their work of advocating for equality, fighting corruption, shedding light on stories of abuse of power that otherwise would go unreported.
Organisations such as This Is Africa which are currently facing funding issues continue doing the important work of telling Africa's stories by Africans. More donor funding however seems to be given to organisations based outside Africa, while organisations on the continent struggle to remain sustainable. Journalists and startups need donors to step in to help to facilitate their work in various ways.