KIGALI - Government has announced plans to slash accreditation fees from US $ 1000 to US $300 a year for international journalists operating in the country.
The revelation was made yesterday during a consultative meeting organised by the Ministry of Information (MININFOR), which brought together media practitioners, proprietors and other stakeholders.
The meeting aimed at discussing and revising different fees practising journalists are charged and also the minimum capital required to start a media house.
Addressing participants at the meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs complex, Ignatius Kabagambe, the Director General in MININFOR, said that the move to revise the ministerial decree on acquiring accreditation for foreign journalists and a press card for both local and international journalists is aimed at streamlining and easing their work in the country.
“What we think is that all these people who have been lamenting about Rwanda having no freedom of press should be able to come down here and operate from here and see for themselves what is on the ground, without having excuses of high accreditation charges and all that,” said Kabagambe.
After deliberations, it was proposed that $300 be accreditation fee for international journalists wishing to work in Rwanda between 6 months and one year, while $200 was proposed for those wishing to work in the country between 3 and 6 months.
International journalists wishing to work in Rwanda for over a month to 3 months will be paying $100 while those intending to work for 10 days up to 1 month will be required to pay $50 for accreditation.
Those staying for a day up to 15 days will be pay $30.
It also was agreed that all journalists practicing in the country acquire high quality press cards from the High Council of the Media (HCM) valid for 3 years at a cost of Rwf 5,000 instead of the proposed Rwf 10,000.
The proposed amendments in the new media law gazetted on August 12, 2009 also indicate that international journalists who wish to extend their stay in Rwanda after the accredited period will be required to apply through the HCP.
New among the proposed amendments is that all journalists from the EAC and CEPGL regions will be exempted from paying the accreditation fees and for press cards while on assignment in the country.
Rwanda is a member to both regional blocs, within the EAC.
However, journalists from the region wishing to work in Rwanda (practice locally) will be required to pay for press cards equivalent to what their Rwandan counterparts pay.
The proposed amendments in the Ministerial Decree also put the minimum start up capital for print media (newspaper) at Rwf 23.6m including all expenses of printing, personnel and equipment.
To start a radio station, one will now be required to have Rwf 45m instead of the proposed Rwf69m as the minimum start up capital while for a proposed minimum of Rwf 105m; a person is allowed to start a television station.
However participants observed that the proposed amount to start a television station is way below the required capital, arguing that the capital proposed can only start a ‘a community TV’ but not a TV station with much wider coverage and variety broadcasting.
Kabagambe dispelled this saying that the figures were not conclusive.
“The aim is to establish a strong and functional media that meets regional and international standards.” said Kabagambe of the proposed changes.