The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the Gambia Press Union (GPU), in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure (MoICI) of The Gambia, have commenced a comprehensive media sector reform initiative in The Gambia.
The initiative, which forms part of efforts to support and strengthen the Gambian media sector to contribute effectively to the democratic transition processes in the country also involves Denmark-based International Media Support (IMS) and Gambia Media Support (GAMES), which is also based in Denmark.
As an initial step for the process, a 12-member group of local and international media experts that includes media managers, editors, regulators, academics, lawyers and policymakers has been constituted. The group is co-chaired by Ms. Isha Davies, Director of the Gambia Information Service (GIS) representing the MoICI and Bai Emil Touray, President of the GPU.
Through a series of workshops and consultations, the expert group will come up with a comprehensive strategic framework that will guide the entire media sector reform process in The Gambia. As part of the process, the MFWA has seconded a Senior Programme Officer, Vivian Affoah, to the Gambia to work with the GPU.
To kick-off the process, the expert group is holding a three-day workshop at the Djembe Hotel from June 6 to 8, 2017. This will be followed by other workshops and consultations by the group in the coming weeks.
The framework that will be produced by the group will be presented to stakeholders during a major forum at the end of June. The forum will bring together other local and international stakeholders including the ECOWAS and the UN Office for West Africa.
Commissioning the expert group at the beginning of its initial three-day workshop, the Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure, Hon. Demba Ali Jawo commended the initiative and indicated the full support of his Ministry and the government of The Gambia.
“A media sector reform process has to be comprehensive and this is why the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure is very supportive of this initiative,” said the Minister.
The strategic framework that is being worked on by the expert group will look into key issues such as legal and policy reforms, media capacity building, institutional development of local actors and media, transformation of the state broadcaster into a public service broadcaster, among others.
Commenting on the initiative, Secretary General of the GPU, Saikou Jammeh, said: “The GPU is delighted about this joint initiative with the MoICI, MFWA, IMS, and GAMES. The process has been very inclusive and as GPU, we feel we have been empowered to lead a process that is ultimately about the development of our country.”
The commencement of the comprehensive media sector reform process in The Gambia follows an initial post-election assessment mission by the partners from March 18 to 25, 2017 during which a meeting was held with the Gambian President, Mr. Adama Barrow and other senior government officials.
During the initial mission and subsequent to that a series of meetings have been held with the Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure, Hon. Demba Ali Jawo, the leadership of the GPU, the Director General of the Gambia Radio and Television Services, editors and affiliate groups of the GPU.
“We are working on a process that will be locally-owned from conception and locally-driven in implementation. It is therefore great to have the GPU and the Ministry of Information leading the process while we offer the needed support,” said Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the MFWA.