President Paul Kagame has challenged African broadcasters to be more proactive in telling African stories and undo the current status quo whereby the continent’s stories are often told by outsiders.
Kagame was speaking during an interaction with delegates at the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) General Assembly in Kigali yesterday.
The session was moderated by Emmanuel Wongibe, the Deputy Director General of Cameroon Broadcasting Corporation.
The President said that, for far too long, the African story has been told by outsiders who often tell it with bias and in disregard of context or circumstances.
The failure to tell the African story by the continent’s broadcasters, Kagame said, has led to a vacuum which is being filled by outsiders.
The President found it somewhat strange that people living in Africa have to resort to foreign media outlets for news and updates about their own continent.
“We need our own content and our own way of transmitting it to the people of Africa and beyond. What we have had for far too long, is that outsiders owning our ‘mouths’ that should be telling our story. They end up telling our story the way they percieve it and not the way it is,” Kagame said.
The President said that the continent was not short of skills and capabilities to fill the vacuum.
“You have people who work in the industry who can develop and create the content that tells the right story about our continent.The general public needs to know what happens in their own countries and continent. But who tells them? You cannot have people from outside the continent telling the general public in Africa about them,” Kagame said.
Going forward, he called for the empowering of African broadcasters which would eventually lead to a strong pan-African voice.
African football broadcasting rights
Kagame also went on to comment on the absurdity concerning the rights to broadcast African football matches, played on African soil, by people from outside the continent.
This has led to a challenge whereby the rights to air the matches have become too costly for African countries to afford.
“I am told that there is difficulty faced by our broadcasters obtaining rights to broadcast football and other sports because of how that industry is structured. It is a problem that we need to confront.
“It is an embarrassment, our rights and our citizens’ rights to watch African football in Africa is managed by people from outside. This is scandalous. There is nothing to be proud of. How can we keep like this and for how long?” he asked.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 2015 sold worldwide rights for the Afcon and Champions League games to French-based company, Lagardère, for about $1 billion from 2017 through to 2028.
That gives the French firm a right to sell airing privileges at costs of their choice.
That has made it difficult for African broadcasters to afford the rights. For instance, during the previous Africa Cup of Nations in 2017, only 13 countries could afford the rights.
Kagame however said that money was not the main problem but rather the structuring of the industry which ought to be adjusted going forward.
The week-long general assembly of the African Union of Broadcasters ends today.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, Arthur Asiimwe, was elected vice chair of the AUB while his counterpart from Botswana will head the body.