African broadcasters meeting in Kigali for the 11th General Assembly of the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) have said that content creation and production remains a big problem in Africa.
Participants, speaking during the opening of the ordinary session of the General Assembly at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), yesterday, reiterated the need to improve content and to tell the African stories.
Kwame Akuffo Anoff Ntow, the president of the AUB, observed that the quality of content produced by many public broadcasting agencies is poor, highlighting that the African audio-visual landscape has to change.
“This [task] concerns all political leaders as well as managers of contemporary African television stations, especially those of the public service who are on the frontline of the transformation,” he said.
While radio and television are classified all over the world as sensitive tools, Akuffo said the two platforms have a heavy educational mission which he said can only be achieved if the quality of content is good.
Drawing participants from over 46 countries across the continent and beyond, Akuffo pointed out that the meeting was an opportunity for African broadcasters to cooperate and come up with ways to improve content.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Corporation, Louise Mushikiwabo, said that despite the increase in the number of television stations in Rwanda, it has not translated into improved content for the viewers.
“Quite often, we are faced with South American telemundos, North American soap operas, and European news packages as if we in Africa lack our own stories to tell. This is a challenge that many of our countries face,” the minister said.
She added that the international media, with its own objectives and interests, has dominated the region and set the news agenda, and that they tell Africa’s story from their perspective at best, and at worst distort it.
Mushikiwabo, who doubles as the Government spokesperson, also noted that misrepresentation of Africa in the international media has derailed the continent’s progress, highlighting that Africa should not remain silent on some of the very difficult matters that must be discussed, including the weakness of Africans to tell their own stories.
Mushikiwabo, who previously served as Information Minister, challenged participants to ponder on how Africa should use the digital age to package its content, share it among the African people, and create a strong media platform that is capable of competing with internationally renowned media outlets.
Arthur Asiimwe, the director-general of Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, which co-organised the meeting, noted that the cost of producing good content is still high, calling for members to think about a sustainable way of financing African institutions.
“In Europe and America, public broadcasters are financed through public fees and different levies. But in Africa, we are left at the mercy of the national treasury, which is often not enough. We should think of the best way of financing ourselves,” he noted.
Participants, including ministers in charge of communication from Botswana, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, and Senegal, are reviewing the broadcasting business landscape in Africa, and throughout the week they will be deliberating on what Africa needs to achieve the digital migration.
Asiimwe said two-thirds of African countries have not yet transitioned from analog technology.
Rwanda is among few African countries that managed to fully transition to digital infrastructure. According to statistics, 95 per cent of Rwanda’s geographical landscape is under digital terrestrial television, while the remaining 5 per cent is covered by satellite.
Meanwhile, the meeting was yesterday graced by the President of the Confederation of African Football, Ahmad Ahmad, who alongside other members of the Executive Council of the African Union of Broadcasting, held a closed-door meeting to discuss football rates in broadcasting, among other issues.