African Media Now Telling Its Own Stories – OpEd


Under the aegis of the African Union, the continental organization, the AU Media Fellowship programme is frog-leaping to create a positive and compelling brand image for the continent on the global landscape. With financial support from the African Union, media groups are constantly retraining and learning the collaborative strategic art and new skills in rebranding Africa within the emerging multipolar world and as an integral part of the African Agenda 2063.

The AU Media Fellowship Programme is a newly created platform for cross-border collaborative journalism, which has already been hailed for paving the way for practicing media professionals and content creators to break away from the longstanding over-reliance on external sources for information about developments throughout Africa.

For the one-year long fellowship, groups are broadly chosen from different African countries. Over the past months, media fellows have been exploring ways to not only balance narrative of developments on the continent but also to operationalize networks and frameworks of exchange with each other in a bid to boost the impact of their content and reporting.

After a success study tour in Germany and the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the group moved the Phase 3 of the AU Media Fellowship two-week long study tour to AU organs in South Africa, at the Pan-African Parliament.

The study tour to the AU organs and specialized agencies began at the AU Pan-African Parliament, African Union Development Agency (AUDA- NEPAD), Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) and South African institutions which include South Africa Broadcasting (SABC), The MultiChoice Group, Brand South Africa, Wits School of Journalism which hosted the 3rd series of the AU Media Roundtable. The study tour concluded with a guided tour to the Republic of South Africa Parliament and Media Lab retreat.

The 4th Vice-President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Hon. François Ango Ndoutoume, welcomed the AU Media Fellows to PAP which he described as the home of the African people. He further refers to the role of the PAP’s mandate to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.

“The mandate of the PAP as a representation of the peoples of Africa cannot be implemented without engaging and involving citizens and civil society. The media, therefore, remains the most effective tool to achieve this objective, Ndoutoume said and continued his remarks by highlighted the critical role the media plays in enhancing active citizen engagement.

The PAP depends on journalists to inform the public about its work. It is also important to note that covering the continental Parliament requires an understanding of its origin, mandate and rules of procedure, according to his explanation, and finally called on the media to regain control of the editorial line and the media coverage dedicated to Africa, as it is the only way to counter negative narratives about the continent.

According to Leslie Richer, the African Union Director for Information and Communication, cross border collaborative journalism being shaped through the AU Media Fellowship positions media outlets and journalists across Africa to own the narrative of the continent.

“From your study trip in Germany, Ethiopia and now in South Africa, this connecting of thoughts will help not only to do your work better, but also as journalists you are creating a network, you are actually better able to address the issues on the continent and to create narratives that we want. A balance narrative of developments on the continent, one that is a clear representation of who we are but one that speaks of the situation that we find ourselves in,” Richer said.

“We started this programme so that you can start realizing that you’re not in competition with each other. There’s a bigger challenge for us because we do not even collaborate as journalists, and that must change. So that’s the role the African Union has to play, to bring media houses and journalists together,” she said the Pan-Africa Parliament last November, 2022.

Last December, as part of the Africa Union Media Fellowship programme, Areff Samir and Amira Sayed both AU Media Fellows -2022, hosted Dr. Dinesh Balliah, Acting Director of the Centre of Journalism at Wits University. Naeemah Dudan, Producer at, Veerashni Pillay, founder of news start-up, and Lindokuhle Nzuza, project coordinator at Jamlab Africa and panelists to unpack the changing media landscape, share best practices on how to leverage technology to shape narratives and discuss sustainable business model’s journalist can adopt to survive in the fast-paced media industry.

Speaking during the meeting, Dinesh Balliah, Acting Director at the Centre of Journalism Wits University, shed light on the constantly changing needs of media audiences in Africa. She focused on how the needs of media consumers in Africa are fast changing, which calls for new approaches in the media industries in Africa. 

She said, “The media ecosystem is changing, and thus the curriculum of journalism has to improve to meet the dynamic ever-changing needs of the audiences. Today, we give assignments to students and we instruct them to present them in different formats like podcasting, data visualization etc.”

Telling Africa stories and creating African content will be more successful in the future when media students and practising media personalities embrace the digital ways of practicing journalism. More people can access the internet and search for news and media content online on Podcasts, Twitter, blogs, and Youtube, among other platforms. In the near future, African audiences will rely more on getting news and media content on online platforms. This calls for a necessary and immediate revision of the journalism curriculum in Africa.

In addition, donor companies and funding stakeholders of different media houses are changing their selection criteria. Naeemah Dudan listed ways of getting funders and donors to support media work. She said that media personalities should find better approaches to donors and mentioned that good proposals for any idea are the key to persuading donors. Therefore, media professionals in Africa can thrive when they master the skills of writing persuasive proposals to donors and funding stakeholders. 

Lindokuhle Nzuza, the Project Coordinator at Jamlab Africa, an incubator for innovative journalism and media in projects from across Africa aims to strengthen innovation in African independent journalism and media, to grow the diversity of the continent’s voices in the public space. This is a great contribution to equip media practitioners to counter stereotypes in the digital edge.

There was also a networking session with the Africa Regional Media Hub, this is part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Public Affairs that works to connect U.S. policy makers and experts with media in Africa. The session took place in December, 2022.

The Deputy Director  for the US Africa Regional Media, Tiffany Jackson-Zunker has reiterated the United States’ commitment to working with African media to include and elevate African voices in the most consequential global conversations.

Tiffany Jackson-Zunker said “The role of the media in a democracy is critical and our hub’s primary objective is to support journalists, specifically those on the African continent by providing resources on U.S.-Africa policy, opportunities to engage with U.S. officials, and responding to queries from media representatives, the journalists who work with us have more tools at their disposal to write the stories their audiences want and need.” 

The tour provided an opportunity for the media fellows to gain further insights into US-Africa policy, particularly pertaining to its engagement with the media in Africa. The visit to the media hub comes after the AU Media fellows were hosted in Ethiopia by the U.S. Permanent Representative to the African Union Ambassador Jessica Lapenn.

Director for Information and Communication at the African Union Commission (AUC), Leslie Richer added that “the two organizations have a common goal of ensuring top-quality, balanced narrative on the continent, which will result in equally high-calibre reportage and for us, a crucial step towards achieving this is to provide the fellows with the capacity to deliver through such interactions and tours.”

The AU Media Fellowship programme is an excellent platform for African journalists to gain a continent-wide perspective on news creation, media operations, their role in reframing the African narrative, and the power of professional networking. The Africa Regional Media Hub is now a welcomed member of their larger network, and remains as a strong supporter of the African Union’s efforts to bolster media professionals across the continent.

Brand South-Africa, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sithembile Ntombela, took the AU Media Fellows through the concept of nation branding when the Media Fellows paid a working visit to the offices of Brand South Africa as part of activities for a two-week study trip to South Africa for the 29th November to 10th December.

According to The Brand SA CEO, Africans must accept and embrace the Continent’s uniqueness. “We have to recognize the uniqueness of each and every country’s offering and package it in a way that complements each other in grabbing the attention of the world so that Africa becomes better. The important thing about the concept of branding Africa is the alignment and our intentions for the development and positive impact of social and economic benefit of all of us in Africa,” she told them.

She concluded her remarks by commending the African Union for being instrumental in taking leadership and being a facilitator of concepts and programmes that promotes regional integration like the AU Media fellowship. For the final phase of the fellowship programme will be at the Continental AU Media roundtable to discuss the future of Media in Africa in May 2023.

The AU Media Fellowship programme, is implemented by the African Union (AU) through the Information and Communication directorate, supported by the Germany Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). Through the fellowship, the AU seeks to boost ownership of key policies and programmes, and accelerate achievement of goals under its Agenda 2063, which targets delivering on socio-economic and development changes across Africa. 

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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