I attended a very interesting seminar today on the role of the media in governance and anti-corruption. Key speaker for the session was the first African-born winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Nigerian journalist Dele Olojede. Mr. Olojede talked about the information and communication revolution that has taken place in Africa in the last decade and how it has transformed the role of the media all across the continent.
Emphasizing the breakthrough in widespread usage of cell phones and internet coverage and the growth of commercial radio stations, he talked about how it has substantially changed the way Africans view governance and their role in holding governments accountable. As a result of this media revolution, citizens are becoming more empowered by increased access to information that otherwise would not be accessible to the public. He also mentioned how this revolution had been very effective in activating the wider public. Especially with the increase in user generated content based media such as blogs and ‘eye witness’ type news, anyone with access to a cell phone or the internet has the opportunity to share information in real time while remaining anonymous.
I left the seminar thinking to myself that given the huge potential the media has, perhaps it is the best tool that African countries have at their disposal to promote accountability and anti-corruption, then shouldn’t we be increasing our efforts to keep supporting and strengthening Africa’s media sector?