African media urges Indian media to invest in continent

    By Hadra Ahmed, IANS,

    Addis Ababa : Media leaders from Africa have at a meeting here urged their Indian counterparts to invest in the continent’s communications and technology sector.

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    India’s thriving media business was a major talking point at the three-day African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) organized by the African Media Initiative (AMI) and the Ethiopian National Organizing Committee (NOC) and held for the first time in this Ethiopian capital.

    Africa is witnessing considerable investments in the media and telecom sectors, where India has a huge presence.

    Africa, therefore, needs to learn from India on tackling the various challenges its media faces, like financial stability, technological adaptation, freedom of expression, ethics and leadership and skills learning, according to Roukaya Kasenally, director of programmes and knowledge management at AMI.

    “There are one billion people in this continent, so just imagine the market size and the capacity of Indian companies in those areas to provide services and infrastructure for the media,” she told IANS.

    The media is a thriving business entity in Africa and India’s involvement in the booming sector like media communication, media in mobile, and media in technology, among others would trickle down to a win-win scenario of both countries, Kasenally noted.

    “So I think the idea is to understand how do we get those (Indian) companies into this new energy and how do we trickle it down to our people,” she said.

    “I also think it is all about how do we understand the partnership and how do we craft the partnership and how do we make it much more a partnership of equals”, Kasenally added.

    According to Kasenally, the media becomes important for projecting the African renaissance through its own voice, different from a western perspective. In this context, Indian media organisations, in addition to investing, can help tell the story of Africa’s development.

    “So the point is how can we, through the media, help tell our stories through the new form of partnership and how to create an alternative understanding of the continent”, she added.

    The African media is among the fastest growing industries but has not commanded the level of financing that is required to unlock its full potential.

    “We often hear talk about what Africa has to offer while if you look at the statistics on trade and export you always see that Africa is exporting a lot of its raw material but is not producing enough of its own by way of value addition,” Kasenally said.

    “So when we look at partnerships with India, we need to be very cautious and understand how we can do it in a way that is a win-win partnership,” she added.

    India has more than 90,000 newspapers and over 700 satellite channels – more than 80 are news channels – and is the biggest newspaper market in the world with over 100 million copies sold each day.

    Among the oldest and largest media of the world, Indian private media in particular has been free and independent throughout most of its history.

    (Hadra Ahmed can be reached at [email protected])