Washington, D.C., October 15, 2008 - Africans across the continent have
access to more information because of technology like the Internet and
cell phones despite press freedom restrictions in many countries,
panelists said today at the Voice of America (VOA).
Reed Kramer, CEO of
AllAfrica Global Media, which runs www.allafrica.com, said the media in
Africa is becoming increasingly professional, but challenges remain,
including financial pressures and government crackdowns.
Chinje, manager of Africa's external affairs for the World Bank, and
Mwamoyo Hamza, chief of VOA's Swahili service, participated in a
discussion, "Africa's Dynamic Media Environment."
Although some African
leaders still try to censor news, "the media environment is very
bright," Hamza said. He cited the proliferation of media in places such
as Kinshasa, where there are at least 70 FM radio stations and up to
In 2007 Freedom House, the non-profit group that rates
media freedoms, categorized eight countries in Africa as having a free
press, 19 countries as partially free, and 21 countries as not
Chinje said several countries with the greatest freedoms,
including freedom of the press, are developing at a fast clip. He cited
Ghana and Botswana as two countries that are performing well
To spur professional development in the media, the
panelists all touted the value of training, particularly training on a
The panelists agreed that the 2008 presidential
election in the United States has generated huge interest among
Africans. Chinje said many Africans are interested in U.S. leadership
issues. Added Kramer: "Technology is helping Africans to get access to
information without the gatekeepers."
The program, which was webcast live, was organized during
the month that VOA launched In Focus, a 30-minute weekday television
program that provides Africans with the latest news and information
about Africa and the world.
The Voice of America, which first went on
the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service
funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of
Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news,
information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an
estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs
are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.