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Media organisations in Ghana to benefit immensely from hosting of IFPIM Secretariat, says Fatimatu Abubakar

The Information Minister said media organisations in Ghana can benefit immensely from the siting of the regional secretariat of the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM) in the country

Media organisations in Ghana  will benefit immensely from the hosting of the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM) Secretariat in the country, the Minister of Information Fatimatu Abubakar has said.

The minister said the government lobbied to host the secretariat in Ghana because media organisations in the country can benefit from the siting of the Fund in the country.

Speaking during a working visit to Asaase Broadcasting Company Ltd on Wednesday (22 May), Abubakar said, “At the moment Ghana has been able to negotiate with IFPIM to set up the regional office for Africa and the Middle East. IFPIM currently has about US$50 million to disburse to various media houses in Africa, Middle East and also South America.”

She added, “We lobbied to bring the secretariat here because we believe we can benefit from the proximity by sensitising our various media houses to the fund and also liaising with the office to access the fund.” 

The International Fund for Public Interest Media is a bold new multi-stakeholder initiative designed to effectively diagnose and address the challenges facing public interest media in low- and middle-income countries and help to identify pathways toward long-term sustainability. 

Following an agreement with the French government, the International Fund will formally incorporate as an independent French association with a status akin to an international organization. This agreement was announced by Catherine Colonna, minister for Europe and foreign affairs of France, at the Paris Peace Forum in 2022.

The mission of the International Fund for Public Interest Media is to foster a paradigm shift in how public interest media is resourced, with the goal of ensuring it is independent, inclusive and resilient. Its vision is that people worldwide live in healthy information ecosystems with access to media that upholds the public interest.

Capacity building

Abubakar said her ministry has intensified moves to build journalists’ capacity.

She added that roughly 100 journalists will benefit from capacity-building, starting from June this year.

 “We also realise that there are some capacity challenges within this case,” she said. “Because mostly you have journalists, you have technical people who have gone through training at NAFTI [National Film and Television Institute], GIJ [Ghana Institute of Journalism] and any of the tertiary institutions in the country.

“Since 2022, we have trained 140 journalists in NAFTI. And in June, we are bringing up the Open Committee for additional handouts, whom we intend to train together or break into two for the third and fourth quarters of the year.

“There is a temptation for people to think that, ‘Oh, it’s not a big deal. It’s being sponsored by the ministry. Maybe they are going to brainwash people. Maybe they need it for a political agenda.’

“But it’s nothing of that sort,” Abubakar said.

Tax regime

For his part, the chief executive officer of ABC Ltd, George Andah, called for government intervention to reduce the operational costs faced by media houses.

Andah also called for the minister to bring influence to bear to lighten the tax regime created by the communications service tax (CST) and bring relief to media organisations.

“We have operational issues. It’s difficult to manage a broadcasting facility. Our operational costs are pretty high. The cost of transmission is pretty high; [also] staffing costs, training of staff.

“And so, yes, we definitely need support in this space … I’m sure that you are aware from your interactions with GIBA [the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association] that there are some challenges with the tax regime,” Andah added.

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