Journalists, experts on why media growth in Rwanda is slow

While the government acknowledges that media has come of age, some media practitioners and managers contend that the local media there is a lot to be done for the sector to match the transformation witnessed in other sectors which have grown at a faster rate in the recent past.
A cross-section of media practitioners and partners at the media dialogue in Kigali, yesterday. (Photos by Timothy Kisambira)
A cross-section of media practitioners and partners at the media dialogue in Kigali, yesterday. (Photos by Timothy Kisambira)

While the government acknowledges that media has come of age, some media practitioners and managers contend that the local media there is a lot to be done for the sector to match the transformation witnessed in other sectors which have grown at a faster rate in the recent past. 

While officiating at the 9th annual media dialogue, in Kigali yesterday, Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo,  noted that Rwandan media has come a “a long way” but observed the need to create sustainable media going forward.

Mushikiwabo, who commended journalists for giving deserved importance to the media day, said that, “being a former Information minister I can attest that media has come a long long way.”

“We need sustainable media,” she added.

However, some journalists and media experts believe that more government push could go a long way in facilitating the establishment of a sustainable media sector in Rwanda. 

Dr Christopher Kayumba, a journalism lecturer at the University of Rwanda, called on government to invest in media outlets that tell our story,

Edmund Kagire, the General Secretary of Rwanda Association of Journalists,  said that the local media is “largely hampered” by limited avenues for income. He said that an increase in government budget towards media development would boost the sector.

“It is difficult to sustain a media outlet with a reasonable source of income. It means media houses don’t have enough money to pay journalists or sustain operations. We need to come up with new avenues that can help the media become more lucrative,” Kagire said.

He added, “the government budget on media has been dwindling over the years, and the private sector is still at a level where it can’t sustain the media.”

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Anastase Shyaka, the CEO of RGB speaks at the meeting.

Samuel Baker Byansi, a local journalist, said the government should determine one institution that should oversee media development issues in general instead of being five bodies presently.

“Secondly the the government should find a way how the Rwandan media platforms should be assisted in increasing their revenue,” he added.

Albert Rudatsimburwa, a proprietor of Contact Media, said that the government has put everything in place but there’s no value chain.

“Everything is in place but we compare ourselves with the Western media that have been there for years that have resources and sustainable private sector investment subsidized by government, such as satelite bills and masts,” Rudatsimburwa said.

To close the gape, he added that, “encouraging people to pay for the content even if it is Rwf1000 per month would significantly change the media landscape  in Rwanda. People pay for garbage collection, electricity bills, car parking and public toilets. Why would someone be happy to consume media content without paying?”

Magnus Mazimpaka, of Taarifa news website, argued that “ the Government is biggest spender, but it buys less space from private media.

“Media is a public good. It requires everyone’s support. Without a successful media, you have a disturbed society. The nature of the media is a reflection of society.” He said.

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Leslie Richer director for Information and communication at African Union gives her remarks.

On the contrary, Jesse Maxella Kiyingi, a local radio presenter and media consultant, told The New Times that, “Uninformed media investors using uninformed media managers, and the assumption of audience expectations rather research-based evidence is another challenge that has affected media growth in Rwanda.’’

Despite some commendable progress in Rwanda’s media output, some media houses have closed shop in the recent past citing revenue constraints.

Anastase Shyaka, the Chief Executive Officer  of Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), observed that, “in Rwanda, we see mergers as one of the measures that can help media houses to keep afloat.

Rwanda, became the 11th African nation to put in place the Access to Information Law.

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Anastase Shyaka, the CEO of RGB (C) speaks to Foreign Affairs, minister Regional Cooperation and EAC affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, as Leslie Richer director for Information and communication at African Union looks on. / Timothy Kisambira

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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