Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa awards grants to strengthen community media and citizen journalism in Africa

August 22, 2018

Funds set to advance business journalism and market transparency in Africa

The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa and the Ford Foundation awarded grants to ten non-governmental organizations across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to advance market transparency, and enhance access to information about business and finance, policies and practices that impact inclusive economic growth and human development.

The funds, awarded over two years, aim to elevate voices from local communities and further the development of citizen journalism and community reporting on financial and economic issues. Funding is provided by the Community Media Fund, a US$1million fund established in 2015 as part of the Bloomberg Media Initiative in Africa, which itself launched a year prior to advance business journalism on the continent. Erana Stennett, Director, Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa, said: “Using traditional, digital and mobile technology, these grant recipients are working to inform and empower poor and marginalized communities about business and economic issues that impact their lives.”

First round founding will be awarded to support the vibrant and growing community media sectors.

In Kenya, the grantees are:

  • The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK): a national association for female journalists committed to enhancing the status of Women in Kenya and Africa. AMWIK’s project will focus on stories covering financial literacy, accountability, transparency, justice and journalistic principles.
  • The Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET): an organization which specializes in the development of community media, focusing on community radio, resource centers and newsletters. The grant will allow KCOMNET to develop a community media hub that will provide technical support to strengthen community media in Kenya, and set up a web-based platform for aggregating and amplifying citizens’ voices on issues related to transparency and accountability.
  • Mtaani Community Based Organization: a non-profit organization supported by volunteers. Mtaani will use its two radio community radio stations to improve transparency, accountability, financial literacy and access to data through a project dubbed Radio Mashinani.
  • Media Mechanics: a community media outlet that publishes two monthly community newspapers: County Review and Nyanza Today. The grant will allow the outlet to carry more diverse views and localized content. The outlet will build the capacity of local journalists/correspondents to enhance investigative journalism.

In Nigeria, the grantee is:

  • The Institute for Media and Society: which supports the vibrant and growing community media sector. It will implement its project in partnership with the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC) and five community radio stations in four states in Nigeria. The Institute for Media and Society currently leads the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition, a community of citizens committed to advancing media pluralism and advocating for the development and expansion of a sustainable community radio sector in Nigeria.

In South Africa, the grantees are:

  • The Conversation Africa: an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public. The Conversation’s project will generate financial, economic and business related content, identify and established new relationships with communities, and introduce new forms of digital media. •
  • The Graça Machel Trust’s Women in Media Network (WIMN): a pan-African network of 39 influential female journalists, bloggers, researchers, authors and poets from 15 countries challenging the current perceptions of women and children in the media. WIMN will use their grant to source and distribute content related to business and economics and its impact on women and children.
    Radio KC: a leading community radio station reaching more than 72,000 listeners on a weekly basis. Their project will provide dynamic radio programs focusing on basic financial literacy.
  • Sonke Gender Justice: an organization which works across Africa to strengthen government, civil society and citizen’s capacity to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. Their project will use community radio stations to raise public awareness about social and gender justice issues, particularly women’s rights and access to justice.
  • Wits Radio Academy: a training organization based within the Department of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Wits Radio Academy will use their grant to build the capacity of community radio stations to produce and disseminate informative, objective content that helps improve the quality of independent broadcasting. The Academy will also develop new ways of using radio to improve the public’s access to information.

Paul Nwulu, Program Officer, Ford Foundation Office for West Africa, said: “For decades, the Ford Foundation has supported innovative media projects and the Community Media Fund is one of such projects. No media system represents the voice of the people like community media outlets and it is our hope that this support will help strengthen the community and campus media ecosystem and make them a true voice of the voiceless in the society.”

Hivos East Africa will manage the Community Media Fund and provide technical assistance to the media organizations throughout the grant process. In addition, the Community Media Fund will enhance the financial literacy of citizens, improve their access to relevant data, and build the capacity of community media to strengthen accountability and governance through improved analysis and reporting. Mendi Njonjo, Regional Director of Hivos East Africa, said: “The Community Media Fund will help citizens take control of their lives and influence their local community development, particularly in the context of ensuring public funds are utilized transparently and legitimately.” Dr. Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director of the Institute for Media and Society added: “The project, informed by the expressed needs of Nigerian grassroots communities, is citizen-centred. It positions community media to contribute to enhancing the capacity of citizens by providing them access to information, equipping them with an improved understanding of business and financial principles, and empowering them to participate in policies and practices that result in the development of their communities.”

The press release was originally published by the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa