African media urged to push for "zero tolerance to corruption"


ECA Press Release 212/2012

Kigali, Rwanda, 8 December 2012 (ECA) - Media practitioners and owners can foster accountability and transparency in the public spheres, expose all forms of corruption and encourage best practices that address the governance challenges of Africa said Mr Said Adejumobi, Director of Governance and Public Administration Division (GPAD) at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Kigali.

Policy makers, researchers, media practitioners and members of the academia from Africa met in Kigali on 5-6 December to discuss “Media and the Challenges of Transparency and Accountability in the Public Sphere in Africa”. The meeting was  organized by ECA at the margins of the Anti- corruption Week under the theme "Africa free from corruption”.

 Adejumobi said  “Zero Tolerance to corruption" should not only be a slogan and  identified Rwanda as a country that demonstrates a strong political will for accountability and transparency.

“Africa has to reverse the dishonorable image of being the most corrupt continent and one of the least transparent and accountable regions in the world” he said, adding that  the media, as the state’s fourth estate can be instrumental in overturning this brand and perceptions which are serious disincentive to both foreign and domestic direct investment in Africa.

Addressing the meeting, Antonio Pedro, Director of ECA's subregional office in East Africa, based in Rwanda, said that the lack of accountability and transparency in the public spheres in Africa has been a serious governance challenge and a major impediment to attaining inclusive economic growth on the continent.

Pedro requested media practitioners to use their platforms and their energies to tell stories of best practices and policies while engaging policy makers and other stakeholders, campaigning against  all societal ills that have potential to squeeze the public sphere.

Corruption is the most pressing governance and development challenge that Africa is confronted with today, affirms a report by UNECA. “About 50% of tax revenue and 30 billion in aid to Africa is said to have been diverted away from development through corruption”, reveals an African Development Bank report.

Participants at the meeting concurred that the media cannot tackle the issues of transparency, accountability and corruption in isolation.

“Successfully addressing these issues in a strategic and comprehensive way requires a multifaceted approach that brings on board multiple actors and stakeholders” said Professor Ebenezer Obadare of Kansas University.

Obadare commended ECA and expressed satisfaction with the meeting outcomes. “Having a forum like this, is a fantastic opportunity for people to aggregate ideas, to pool insights, to talk about problems, to discuss challenges and most importantly, come up with solutions informed by their own specific experiences from different scenarios and backgrounds”.

Also discussed were challenges that media face to be able to play its important role of watchdog. Adewale Olaitan, Professor of Political Science and Vice Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria said while the media must be commended for addressing the issue of transparency in Africa,  there is still room for improvement.

“Issues of quality of the personnel employed by media houses and their remunerations have to be addressed. When you don’t pay the right kind of salary, people are disposed to corruption and when someone is disposed to corruption, he/she cannot report about it, said Olaitan.

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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa