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Top banker contemplates new African media funding model



AFRICAN Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina says there is an urgent strategic imperative for financial institutions to fund credible African media organisations to ensure their survival and improve their footprint of coverage.


In his keynote address at the AllAfrica Media Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday, Adesina said most African editors say lack of adequate funding is a major problem for their operations.

He said media is critical for free flow of information, protection of freedoms and development.

The AllAfrica Media Leaders’ Summit brought together over 300 African media owners and operators, government officials, corporate leaders, academics, civil society champions, and development partners to discuss matters affecting the media and the critical role it should play in shaping Africa’s future.

The NewsHawks attended the summit. Adesina said African media needs funding and scale to have a global footprint to tell the continent’s stories properly and effectively.

“Thank you for this opportunity to address you all as you gather to discuss the role of the media in Africa under the theme ‘Re-engineering African Media in Times of Critical Transformation.’

“An independent, professional, responsible, and thriving media is critical for freedom of speech, the development of democracy, and the strengthening of inclusive societies,” Adesina said.

“It has been a tough ride for media establishments and enterprises across Africa since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The unprecedented pandemic disrupted business models, altered audience relationships, squeezed revenues, and tested professional values and public trust.”

Adesina added: “We live in dynamic times. Technology continues to evolve rapidly. The rise of the Internet, digital and social media platforms, has shifted the focus of audiences from a reliance on radio, TV, and print publications.

“Two thirds of the global population now turn to the Internet, social media and a plethora of digital media and apps, the Internet for their access to real-time news, information, and entertainment. “This dynamic shift is largely fueled by the widespread use of mobile phones.

“By 2030, six billion people globally will have access to smartphones. Of these, 692 million will be in Africa.

“These transformative changes have deregulated the creation and distribution of news content, including content created by bots, AI, and deepfakes.

“In short, it is a whole new world where the lines between fact and fiction can become blurred. “In the quest for market share and the dominance of social media content, truly positive developments in Africa get missing amid the chatter, as unfiltered information is spewed to informed and uninformed audiences alike.

“In this new ecosystem, audiences have a tendency not to critically evaluate and reflect on the content of ‘news’ and are often unable to discern or chart a clear narrative for Africa amid the cloud of information and misinformation.

“Subsequently, positive, and good news on Africa often goes missing, under-reported or even sidelined.

“As president of the African Development Bank Group with the mandate to mobilise resources for Africa’s development, I am acutely aware of the importance of information, how it is produced, who produces it, how it is used, how it is interpreted and its impact.”

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