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Akinwumi Adesina calls for an African media company to push positive narrative of the continent

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank Group, addresses guests at the 2024 All Africa Media Summit

The president of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has proposed that the institution he leads, together with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and all regional financial institutions on the African continent, join forces to establish an African media company that will essentially be mandated to tell the Africa story to the world and drive the development of the continent.

Dr Adesina proposed this in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the “2024 All Africa Media Leaders’ Summit”, held at the Radisson Blu Upper Hill Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday (9 May), on the theme of “Re-engineering African Media in Times of Critical Transformation”.

In his address, Dr Adesina shared five measures he believes can help re-engineer the African media in the rapidly changing global landscape.

Among these measures was the call for the establishment of a fully funded African media company which will position the news of Africa to the rest of the world.

Dr Akinwumi Adesina speaking at the summit

Catalyst for development

First, Dr Adesina pointed out that: “The media has a critically important role, by being fair, objective, inquisitive, investigative yes, but also by being a catalyst for development and promoting positive news about tangible African accomplishments, achievements and developments.”

This according to the AfDB Group boss, “is especially true of news items that we know will be consigned to the dustbin by foreign editors and journalists who work for them on the continent.

“Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources or opportunities, African journalists working as correspondents for foreign news organisations many times only report stories that fit the stereotypes of the agencies they work for and the audiences they primarily cater to.

A cross-section of guests at the summit

“The Africa No-Filter survey found that foreign media houses do not devote time and resources to building networks of correspondents on the ground that can properly report stories but rely rather on Western agencies to work for them,” Dr Adesina said.

“With just 19% of their stories emanating from agencies that are based in Africa, biased reporting on Africa is highly prevalent as the bulk of stories and reports about the continent are written by non-Africans,” the AfDB Group president added.

Amadou Mahtar Ba, executive chairman of All Africa

The AMC proposal

Secondly, Dr Adesina noted that “the lack of financing has been cited by more than 92% of editors, journalists and media houses as a constraint to covering stories in Africa. I would propose that there is a strategic business case for financial institutions to put significant resources together to finance a credible African media institution with a global footprint.

“Development news must be properly prioritised and disseminated. To attract even more foreign direct investments, positive stories of African investment opportunities need to be well showcased, as they, unfortunately, do not get sufficient coverage, if any at all, in Western media,” Dr Adesina said.

Dr Akinwumi Adesina with other dignitaries at the summit

“I would therefore like to propose that the African Development Bank, African Export-Import Bank, and all regional financial institutions pull resources to support the emergence of a globally respected African media company that will position the news of Africa to the world.

“Africa must shape its narrative, and not depend on what others think about it or the perspectives they prefer to share about it, its achievements, and opportunities,” the acclaimed international banking expert further said.

Repository of content

On his third, suggestion, Dr Adesina noted that “the development institutions in Africa should set up a joint repository of verified and standardized stories, videos, and content that will make it easier to aggregate and write stories on what’s being achieved in Africa. This will lower the search costs of news houses for stories on what is working in Africa.”

A presentation on the importance of AI

Annual Africa Media Prize

Fourth, Dr Adesina announced that “to recognise and profile African journalists, correspondents and media houses that promote Africa with unbiased stories, the African Development Bank will work with the All Africa Media and African corporates to establish the Annual Africa Media Prize.”

Correspondents’ fellowship

Lastly, he observed that “the African Development Bank, working with partners and the African corporates, will also help establish the African Journalist and Correspondents’ Fellowships to help build and strengthen the capacities of journalists and correspondents working on Africa.”

Dr Akinwumi Adesina and Amadou Mahtar Ba

Vuvuzelas for Africa

In the concluding part of his address, Dr Adesina called on African media practitioners to make it a point to promote Africa through their work.

He added that there is a positive African story to be told and the West will not do that for the continent. It will take the journalists of Africa to tell the continent’s story.

“Together let’s continue to promote Africa. I call on you as leader of the media, to become the vuvuzelas for Africa! Tell Africa’s positive stories. Let it be heard from the mountain tops of Kilimanjaro of Tanzania to the Rift Valley of Kenya; from the Table Mountain of Cape Town to the highest point of Mount Katrina in Egypt; from the deserts of the Sahel to the vast forests of the Congo; from the dry air of the Sahara to the Atlantic Ocean.

“As the renowned Africanist writer Chinua Achebe wrote, ‘Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ The New York Times said the world is becoming more African. I agree!” Dr Adesina added.

A cross-section of attendees at the summit

“Now, Africans must tell their own stories. Not the stories that others write about us. Not the stories of a post-colonial media mindset. Not the stories impregnated with Cold War divisionism.

“Not biased stories, intended or unintended. But the stories of us, as Africans, written by Africans, about Africa, and confidently projected to the world. Be the vuvuzelas of Africa!” he urged the audience.

All Africa

AllAfrica is a voice of, by, and about Africa – aggregating, producing, and distributing news and information from over 130 African news organizations and our own reporters to an African and global public.  AllAfrica operates the largest online platform dedicated solely to Africa-related news and information and is the only news site with truly Pan-African reach.

AllAfrica is the go-to one-stop digital platform for African and African-interested ‘influentials’ across the continent and throughout the world. AllAfrica’s multi-channel platform is the only independent, comprehensive pan-African news source, with unrivaled reach and reputation.

Amadou Mahtar Ba, Executive Chairman of All Africa addressing the 2024 summit

Cited as one of the world’s top four most influential sources of information on sustainable development, AllAfrica reaches a wide range of audiences including policymakers, CEOs, researchers, activists, students, and media.  We publish more than 800 news articles and documents daily from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic.

All Africa publishes news and views from a wide range of sources, from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. It operates from Cape Town, Dakar, Abuja, Mauritius, Nairobi, and Washington DC.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Nairobi, Kenya

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