Nairobi, 9th September 2015- African Media Initiative (AMI) and the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications will in 2016 co-host the “Reporting Africa” conference that will bring together media practitioners from across the continent, to discuss how Africa is covered by regional and global media. The conference will seek to explore ways in which African media can assertively showcase the continent’s reality from an African perspective, and promote development and good governance. AMI and the Kenyan Ministry of Information have undertaken to partner in this event in order to boost media coverage of development issues, inform the media’s engagement with governments and encourage the use of data.While visiting AMI headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i noted that liberal democracy has reduced the traditional dichotomy that in the past pit governments against media. Dr Matiangi added that “no government succeeds without participating in the information space. The media largely controls this information space, and governments must therefore actively engage with and promote a free and vibrant media in our societies.”
African media has in the past been criticized for adopting a western mode of reporting that robs the continent of its authentic voice in presenting African stories to the world. AMI CEO Eric Chinje said that the “ Reporting Africa” conference will seek to rally African journalists to step out of the norm and be bold in reporting on the continent. “ We must remain at the forefront in telling stories that have real impact on African audiences. This means focusing on issues that truly matter to Africans, such as health, infrastructure, agriculture, and governance, as opposed to sensational stories that have the potential to go viral, but make little impact.” While calling on African media to cultivate the confidence needed to cover the continent in a way that propels development, Dr Matiangi urged African journalists to “dare to be yourself”.
The visit by Dr Fred Matiang’i marks the first time a sitting Cabinet Secretary has visited AMI’s offices since the organization set up shop in Kenya, in 2008. Dr Matiang’i and Mr Chinje discussed progress on the host country agreement that would confer upon AMI diplomatic status, to ease its operations in Kenya. Dr Matiang’i assured the AMI team that the agreement was on course, and reiterated the Kenyan government’s commitment to supporting AMI’s work in Kenya and on the continent.