Digital media key to Africa growth story, say experts

Tuesday December 10 2019

Panelists discuss climate change during the Kusi Ideas Festival at Intare Conference arena in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sunday. PHOTO BY NMG

Mainstream media has been urged to invest in new digital platforms as the younger generation shape the future of the sector.

Speaking at the Kusi Ideas Festival in Kigali, Rwanda, at the weekend, Mr Mutuma Mathiu, the Nation Media Group (NMG) editorial director, said the media landscape has changed, with more of computer generated reporting.

“Overall the future is exciting for journalism. As it is, the use of specific devices to receive news is in its last stages. People will receive news from their fridges and all manner of gadgets,” Mr Mathiu said during the panel discussion on media and the great democracy race.

He lauded social media’s role in mobilising people but warned that the platform’s main undoing is promoting fake news.

“For instance, we have also seen social media being weaponised to rig elections and spread misinformation. Now we’re seeing people preferring to pay for credible news,” Mr Mathiu said.

“Whatever form the media will take in the next 60 years, I hope they will continue to talk the truth to power and hold the leaders to account,” Mr Mutuma added.


Mr Monari Moshoeshoe, the deputy managing director of Times Media, said in the next 60 years, the one-dimensional communication will no longer make sense.

“The time is up for mainstream media as the sole agenda setter. The power will be returned to the people, people will be expressing themselves— in terms of democracy,” Mr Moshoeshoe said.

Ms Jeanine Munyeshuli, the chief operations officer at SouthBridge Rwanda, said the media landscape had tilted, allowing social media to have a larger say in democracy and governance issues.

“Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and to participate in democracy,” she said, adding that governments can no longer hide the things under the carpet.

Speaking about the role of media leadership in amplifying young voices, Ms Ikal Angelei, the director of Friends of Lake Turkana, said unless the media start focusing on young people’s ideas and struggles on climate change, we will not move in the right direction

“We need to support young people’s ideas in the circular economy, especially in the area of utilising waste such as broken glass, recyclable home waste and plastics. This will save forests. We need to highlight their initiatives so that we push this agenda across board,” Ms Angelei said.

Mr Francis Okomo-Okello, the chairperson of TPS Eastern Africa plc, challenged the youth to use creative arts in securing the future for Africa.