The first ever Congress of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) press clubs, bringing together media and other stakeholders from more than 20 countries world over, are meeting in Kigali to discuss different issues affecting the media and learn from each other on best practices, challenges and opportunities in their trade.
The two-day congress opened, yesterday, with the group discussing media and communication in a changing global landscape and heard best practices, challenges and opportunities from participants from Eastern Africa, Caribbean, West Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa and Pacific.
The Chief Executive of Rwanda Governance Board, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, told participants at the conference that though it has been used for selfish reasons in some countries, the media still has the power to positively impact democracy and development.
“The media in Africa and other developing countries has been used for years as a tool for selfish people to pursue their selfish interests, which are detrimental to society.
However, the media remains a vital driver of sustainable development, a major pillar of democracy and journalists are also citizens of their nations and are therefore also responsible for finding solutions to problems,” he said.
Shyaka highlighted the progress that the media industry in Rwanda has made in recent years, moving from one TV station in 1994 to 12 in 2013, 36 radio stations and over 80 online publications.
The Secretary-General of the International Association of Press Clubs, Jaroslaw Włodarczyk, said the confidence in media is slowly fading and there was need to improve on the way of doing things.
“Confidence in the media is slowly but continuously eroding worldwide, journalism must ensure transparency, provide specialist information, because news became a service and what we can add today is the context and meaning,” he said.
Włodarczyk cited an example of Rwanda and referred to the long road to reconciliation, saying the Kigali Press Club has a chance to contribute in making a difference.
“This is exactly when the key role for reconstructive professional journalism comes in and the Kigali Press Club can be part of this process, to initiate a discussion on topics to do with journalism but also on social topics, because the essence of journalism is raising difficult topics, to initiate a discussion, journalism is a public mission,” he said.
The Head of Human Rights and Safety at the International Federation of Journalists, Ernest Sagaga, said that though tremendous achievements have been achieved in the media industry all over the world, there was still a challenge in terms of ethics.
“For all the knowledge or experience we may have, we still see the failure to uphold our ethics,” he said.
Sagaga also pointed out the issue of journalists’ security, pointing out that for over the last 20 years thousands have been killed.
“We still see many violations of journalists, whether regarding the confidentiality of their sources or killings and for over the past 25 years, my organisation’s annual reports indicate that just under 3,000 journalists have been killed all over the world, and in Africa alone, the number comes to over 400,” he said.
The congress, organised by Kigali Press Club, closes today with the participants expected to approve the ACP Press Clubs Charter.