Participants at the just concluded 4th East African Media Summit have called for the establishment of radio frequencies and a television station that will purposely disseminate information on the EAC integration process.
The summit held under the theme: “Claiming The Next Decade - An EAC Agenda,” ended on Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya.
Over 200 policy makers, media owners, chief executive officers of media houses, media executives, publishers, and editors in East Africa converged to discuss the role of the media in the regional integration process.
Delegates argued that once in place, the radio and TV station would have reporters in the region specifically covering EAC integration matters from each individual partner state.
“The EAC Secretariat should explore establishing an EAC Radio (Radio Afrika Mashariki) and a television station to purposely highlight the integration issues and keep the citizenry engaged on EAC matters,” the participants implored in one of their several recommendations at the conference.
The idea of establishing radio networks in the region was first discussed by Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who argued that the media had given less space to EAC matters.
“It had been observed that the majority of the existing media in the region overwhelmingly cover individual country issues and dedicate comparably less space for EAC issues,” Musyoka said.
In his presentation, Collin Haba from The New Times observed that for the media in the region to comprehensively cover EAC issues, they will need to be passionate about the EAC integration.
“One key role of the media is to bring EAC ideas closer to the people. But before we do that, we need to love it, believe in it, want it, then act accordingly. We have to be passionate about the EAC, then own the integration process,” Haba said.
Journalists were particularly called upon to promote mechanisms of holding their governments accountable on what they are doing about the implementation of the stages of the EAC integration.
Delegates called on the EAC Secretariat, in collaboration with the organs, institutions and ministries of EAC in the partner states, to develop a training manual on reporting on the bloc’s integration.
Kenyan Minister of EAC Affairs, Hellen Sambili, noted that there are weak linkages among media players in the region in championing common causes in the integration process.
“May I also challenge you as media practitioners from the region to take greater interest in filling the information gaps that exist between policy makers in government and the public they serve,” she said.
Participants also recommended that the EAC Communication Policy and Strategy should be expeditiously finalized to provide the basis for comprehensive publicity and sensitization of EAC projects and programmes.