Saturday, April 24, 2010

Media in East Africa: Past and Present

I have been meaning to write a post about the Pan-Africa Media Conference held in Kenya on March 18th and 19th 2010.

Host to this conference was the Nation Media Group, an established and experienced media corporation based in Nairobi, Kenya with subsidiares and outlet across the East African region.

The conference served to highlight past and present experiences of media in East Africa, and to also anticipate future challenges and goals. As noted in the conference follow-up report, mediums are changing fast; what used to be published only in print yesterday is now being covered on TV channels, radios and blogs. Content is becoming dynamic, ever-changing, and easily transferable.

At the same time, the political economy in East Africa is changing. Our governments are talking to eachother about building a basic economic framework by which Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania can trade freely. With this will come improvements in the mobility of people, goods and services in the region. And given the Seacom Fibre Optic Bandwidth project, more and more people have access to a broadband connection to the world wide web.

So what does this mean for East Africa? The conference has showed a few things, and these are my reflections on them:
  1. We need to prepare for local, East African media spreading further to areas than just East Africa;
  2. Mobile technology is competing with desktop and laptop technology - media websites need to keep mobile-readable websites in mind;
  3. The subject matter of media is much more fluid than it was 50 years ago - people have more access now to discuss issues they want to discuss, and the media needs to prepare for this to continue to happen if not more;
  4. News is now covered by anyone, not just professionaly-trained journalists. The quality is obviously different, but people can find out about things from people, not just their local radio news station. So media outlets need to consider how to give access for contribution to anyone (commenting on talk shows, blog posts, etc).
Let's see if media outlets (Vijana FM included) can live up to these challenges!

Links on this post:
Pan-Africa Media Conference website
Pan-Africa Media Conference follow-up report
Nation Media Group website
The East African newspaper website
Seacom Fibre Optic Bandwidth project
Vijana FM project website

Source: signed, ak (Monday, April 12, 2010)

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