Empower local media


RE: “The real ‘dream from my father” (The New Times, February 28).

The author wrote: “While the (African) leaders see value in the media, they are unwilling to make the needed investments and sacrifices to see it grow to global potential. Our leaders prefer to be featured on international networks, and then complain of the inelegant treatment which these foreign channels reserve them.”

I can’t agree more. For instance, in Rwanda, we have not done enough investment in the media. No advertising budgets from the Government or private sector, which puts our media on the risk of getting controlled by whoever can give them money. They are like mercenaries for hire.

Over the last two years we have reports of radio and TV stations closing down, and newspapers retrenching staff. Something is wrong somewhere. The Government has been able to put in place necessary laws and institutions to support media to be more professional but forgot one thing: investment or incentives to investors in the media.

Why would an investor choose to close Royal TV, which was becoming one of the most watched TV stations in the country? Why would Nation close KFM and put on hold plans to open NTV Rwanda? Is there something we are not doing right?

The Government’s overhaul of former ORINFOR to the current RBA is commendable but it’s not enough. We cannot develop without a vibrant media to do the necessary checks.

I lived in Qatar for more than two years, from what I noticed, the Qataris chose to be different from the rest of the Arab world, introducing necessary checks and balances, ensuring distribution of wealth and offering basic human rights to their people, including women driving and dressing up according to their choice. Of course, Qatar had the resources, and challenges remain for immigrants but whatever has happened in that small country is deliberate.

It is commendable that President Paul Kagame did a few sit-down interviews with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) last year.

Our leaders need to have trust in our media. Rwanda is at a phase where the old, incompetent, illiterate journalists are on the way out and young, vibrant and literate journalists, as we see on RBA, are taking over. We shouldn’t let them down with policies that cut even the little budget that was going into the media. Al Jazeera was a deliberate effort; we can also do the same. Let us start by empowering our journalists.

Mucyo Nkusi