BUJUMBURA February 21st (ABP) – The Minister of Posts, Information Technologies, Communications and Media, Mr. Nestor Bankumukunzi, asked UNESCO on Tuesday to renew the capacity building project for local radio stations for the sake of ICT and extend it to other media, in light of the successes recorded during the first phase of the project from 2014 to 2017.
Mr. Bankumukunzi, who opened a national forum of local radio stations on the exit strategy of the project funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through UNESCO, said the Burundian government is satisfied with activities done.
That regional project on strengthening media pluralism and freedom of expression in Africa covers nine countries (Burundi, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Uganda, DR Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia).
During the previous phase, particular emphasis was placed on four local radio stations, namely “Ijwi ry’umukenyezi (woman voice), Humuriza(calming) FM, CCIB FM + and Radio Colombe.
The government of Burundi is pleased with this work, which is in line with the action plan of the National Communication Policy in the Media axis on reforms aimed at local media. “This component seeks to promote local contents by enabling local people to assert their needs and expectations and make use of programs that digital broadcasting will make available,” Bankumukunzi said.
Burundi’s concern is that the following phases will also concern all the media, with a view to preparing them to contribute to the consolidation of peace and security, through good media coverage of the upcoming political elections and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but also contribute to development in a global way, according to Minister Bankumukunzi.
According to him, the four direct beneficiary radio stations of the project are now able to better manage their formula thanks to an application deployed by the project. They have an electronic document management system and a network of local correspondents that cover the news in several localities thanks to mobile technologies. They reviewed their program schedule to match the expectations of the audience. Those local radio stations produce new programs focused on topics of interest to communities, interact with their audience, through an application deployed by the project and give more voice to local people. They generate new revenue through the applications that have been made available to them, develop at least one income-generating activity and are able to plan and monitor their budget.
The Minister in charge of the media also insisted that the trainings of the journalists include the aspect of social responsibility so that the disseminated information helps the communities and the populations that the media are supposed to serve. He urged journalists to make good use of ICTs because they are double-edged.
He called on the media to get together, work in synergy to organize training on basic concepts for young journalists who are increasingly numerous in the media without resorting to UNESCO.
Mr. Michel Elvis Kenmoe of the UNESCO Office in Central Africa and project supervisor at regional level also expressed appreciation for the quality of the cooperation between the Ministry of Media and UNESCO since the beginning of the implementation of the project. He said that as the project draws to a close, the forum aims at determining the most effective and relevant ways and means to ensure the sustainability of its achievements.
“With the results already achieved, the populations are the main beneficiaries of the services that radio stations offer them through quality contents and always in line with their interest. Sustaining the project’s achievements also means providing people with quality information that can help them better cope with the challenges of everyday life, “Kenmoe said.