African Media owners forge new path in Cameroon meeting

Some 271 media leaders and proprietors, bankers and representatives of banking institutions in African continent are meeting in Yaoundé for the Third African Media Leaders Forum, aimed at looking at ways to develop some platform and modules of funding and business accountability.

Media owners from across the African continent vowed to end reliance on donor funding and rid the industry of corrupt practices.

"This is a watershed moment that holds out the promise of a new dawn in African media," said Trevor Ncube, co-chairman of the African Media Initiative, a continent-wide body that sponsors the African Media Leaders Forum.

The three year old Forum brought together more than 225 African media owners from 48 African countries, as well as international media experts. The purpose of the meeting was aimed at coming to a consensus around the best ways to develop   an African media that meets the needs of a dramatically changing media landscape, while instilling the highest professional standards and ethical reporting.

Attending the meeting were representatives from African financial institutions that pledged to assist in transforming media institutions into both viable businesses and effective purveyors of   credible news and information.

Nation Media Group, the largest news organisation in East and Central Africa, has laid out an elaborate plan to celebrate its 50th birthday, including an international media conference this week.
"News businesses across the world are facing fundamental shifts due to changes in content, demographic profiles, and technology" said Amadou Mahtar Ba, ChiefExecutive Officer of   AMI. "By bringing African media owners together, the AMLF   hopes to raise the profile of issues central to development of African media , as well as  African democracy."

Headlined speakers included H.E. Issa Bakary Tchiroma, Minister of Communications; Trevor Ncube and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Co-Chairs of the African Media Initiative (AMI), Arnold Ekpe, Group CEO of Ecobank, Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, CEO Advanced Finance & Investment Group, Colin Mukete, CEO, Spectrum Media Group and host of AMLF 2010; Eric Chinje, World Bank Manager for Media Development; and Amadou Mahtar Ba, CEO, AMI, among others.

"We are delighted to welcome African media leaders to Cameroon for the first time," said Colin Mukete. "African media are playing an important role in democratic development, a contribution that needs to be nurtured and nourished with ideas, financing, and best practice."

The Yaoundé meeting focused on critical issues affecting African media, including new financing tools; easing barriers that impede access to capital; promoting principled journalism through professional, ethical reporting; strengthening media's role in African development, and curtailing the threats to media freedom that undermine democracy and limit people's participation in democratic processes.

The AMLF is the single-largest annual gathering of African media owners to discuss issues concerning media development and financing in Africa.   The Yaoundé meeting featured a mix of plenary and technical break-out sessions.

"Media can help accelerate Africa's economic and social advance," said Hunter-Gault, an award winning journalist based in South Africa. "This meeting comes at a time when Africa is experiencing sustained economic growth in many sub-Saharan African countries.   Africa needs a strong media to record these changes and to help its people understand and be a part of   what could finally result in an African Renaissance.