Africa: Econews Africa, 01/18/96

Africa: Econews Africa, 01/18/96

Africa: Econews Africa
Date Distributed (ymd): 960118

Econews Africa (Selected Articles)
Vol. 4, No. 20, December, 1995


Statement by NGO Participants

Media practitioners, NGO representatives and development experts from more than 15 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa and beyond met in Nairobi, Kenya from 13-16 November 1995, to formulate strategies for raising awareness about community broadcasting as well as other community media as key agents for development and social (improvement) change. The 4-day meeting was hosted by EcoNews Africa which coordinates the East African Community radio inititive and the Kenyan Chapter of the African Council for Communication and Education (ACCE). The following were the workshop's aims, to:

* create a regional network of community radio broadcasters and other community media practitioners

* establish regional and national lobbies for the liberalisation of the broadcast sector and adoption of appropriate legislation

* put in place funding and financing mechanisms for setting up and sustaining the sector that include, but are not limited, to private sector and donor funding.

At the end of the deliberations and sharing of experiences, the workshop adopted a concrete Action Plan towards achieving the above objectives. The gathering affirmed that:

* community media constitute a key agent of development and social change in Eastern and Southern Africa

* in line with the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Universal Declaration Human Rights as well as internationally-accepted charters that guarantee freedom of expression, it is the inalienable right of all Africans to express freely their views.

With these principles in mind, the workshop called upon governments in Eastern and Southern Africa to:

* recognise the crucial role community media can play in development of the region's countries and peoples * rapidly put in place at national and sub-regional levels the policies and legislation required to promote the growth and development of an independent and pluralistic media sector

* guarantee that licensing procedures for community radio are fair and transparent, all-inclusive and free from political and other interference

* protect the right of community radio practitioners, once licensed, to operate unhindered.

In particular, the gathering expressed concern at the slow pace of deliberations into legislation conducive to independent broadcasting in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland and other countries of Eastern and Southern Africa where broadcasting is a state monopoly.

The group called on such governments to shed light on ongoing policy deliberations, share information with the potential actors in community media as well the beneficiaries, and speed up processes already in train to deregulate broadcasting.

A full report of the Workshop will soon be made available. We will also publish an analyis of the situation of community media in the Eastern and Southern Africa in future issues of EcoNews Africa.

Contact Wangu Mwangi, EcoNews Africa for information on the full report.


A Kenyan Caucus formed during the Community media workshop for East and Southern Africa announced the formation of the Kenya Community Media Network, KCOMNET.

KCOMNET attracted Communications, Training and Research institutions, NGOS involved in community development, other civil society groups, interested individuals and media practitioners. KCOMENT will meet its objectives by networking with members, affiliates, government and international bodies to ensure that community media resources are tapped for the benefit of the communities themselves.

Towards this end, the network outlines the following as its immediate and pressing objectives.

* To encourage the recognition and use of community-based media for community participation, not only in the media, but also in the decision-making process of development. As Community media thrives best in a legal environment that allows for pluralistic media, KCOMENT will

* lobby for an enabling legal and policy environment for the formation and unhindered operation of community media. In East and Southern Africa, Kenya is among the few countries that has neither a comprehensive information and communications policy, nor legal statutes and policies in support of media pluralism.

To this end, KCOMNET will support policies and legal processes that recognise and support the development of community radio stations alongside private, commercial radio stations and other independent broadcasts.

* It will also lobby for the recognition and development of community media within a coherent cultural policy in the country.

* KCOMNET recognises that community media and participatory media in general, draws heavily on cultural resources within local communities. Community media thrives when people are not only the consumers, but also the performers and the producers. In the absence of a comprehensive cultural policy, it will be difficult to apportion a role for community media.

* KCOMNET will undertake specific activities to develop community media in the country, for instance, through the production and distribution of programmes.

KCOMNET will respond to the challenge made by the Minister for Information and Broadcasting at the opening of the workshop, when he stated that of the 19 television and 32 radio license applications awaiting approval, none is community-based. The newly formed network is pleased to note that that the government acknowledges the crucial role community media can play in the development of Kenyan people.

Members urged the government to institute processes that will lead to the development of community media devoid of economic political and legal bottlenecks. They urged the government of Kenya to implement the 1991 Kericho proposals contained in the document "Information Policy for Kenya", the final draft of which was prepared by UNESCO.


By Wagaki Mwangi

There is some euphoria among the small and medium-sized business sectors in East Africa following market liberalization. The excitement is particular evident among young and middle-aged people who have opted to open up small businesses rather than go into full time employment. This change has largely been brought about by freeing of the foreign exchange controls packaged in Structural Adjustment Programmes.

But as was noted during a consultation between non-governmental organizations and the United Nations agency, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), Sub-Saharan Africa is losing out in the process of market liberalization and globalization.

Yilmaz Akyuz of UNCTAD defined globalization as the process through which national markets get integrated. For instance Kenyan traders are able to access Ugandan and Tanzanian markets and vice versa. Akyuz, noted that when discussions on liberalization begun in the mid-1980s, governments considered the process a good vehicle for all nations to bring about greater equality. Liberalisation targeted three areas: trade, capital flows and investment.

It was then argued that liberalization would result in opening up of trade markets both in the South and in the North, a move that would accrue economic benefits to countries such as Africa that depend heavily on commodities. Additionally, by freeing capital markets, the much-needed foreign exchange would be available in developing countries thus reducing the need to borrow. A further advantage to developing countries would be the stabilisation of local currencies.

Based on the experiences of South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia, removal of non-tax (non-tariff) related barriers to foreign investors, would be present greater chances for foreigners to invest in developing countries, which would then offer better foreign investment returns.

Several participants noted that this has not happened particularly in sub-saharan Africa as investors are not as keen on Africa as they are on Asian markets. They tend to provide manufactures based on cheap labour in the South which does not guarantee poverty alleviation.

Second, markets for African products have not increased significantly particularly in commodities where the South is advantaged and the North is greatly protected. Further where developed countries can delink the prices of their goods from developing countries, the South cannot delink prices of its goods from the Northern market.

Akyuz noted that the only sector in which growth is noted is in capital flows. But these have also resulted in other problems. Increased financial mobility has resulted in increased financial instability as fiscal trade is increasingly based on speculation. This explains why commercial banks in most countries have fluctuating interest rates, which increases risk of taking loans from such institutions a high risk for the local person.

Another associated problem is that the liberalization of local fiscal markets makes the market vulnerable to changes and shocks. For example, the impact of activities at Barrings Bank in Singapore and more recently, the Japanese Daiwa Bank in the US, had an impact on capital markets all around the world.

Another constraint is that although trade in finances has had its returns, it does not require infrastructural investment in developing countries. Besides, the rate in fiscal industry is high and many African countries lack the necessary tools to regulate it or even reap substantial benefits. Akyuz summed his observations by noting that the gains from liberalization has mainly proceeded in high skill intensive manufactures, financial and service sectors, where the developed countries have a comparative advantage.

[article to be continued in next issue of Econews Africa]


EcoNews Africa is an NGO initiative that analyses global environment and development issues from an African perspective and reports on local, national, and regional activities that contribute to global solutions.

EcoNews Africa is a joint project of the Africa Water Network (AWN), Climate Network Africa (CNA), the Environment Liaison Center International (ELCI) and the International Outreach Program of KENGO. It is supported by the Humanistic Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (HIVOS) and NGONET based in Montevideo, Uruguay. Editing and production of this issue: Susan Odede, Wagaki Mwangi, Wangu Mwangi, Samuel Mutinda and Mercy Wambui. Thanks to Miles Goldstick for assistance on the EcoNews World Wide Web site.

The views expressed in the features do not necessarily reflect those of EcoNews Africa or of its member organizations and donors. Reproduction of the material contained in the "features" is encouraged with acknowledgement of source.

Postal Address: EcoNews Africa, P.O. Box 76406, Nairobi, Kenya. Visitors: 1st Floor, No. 27 Uchumi Road, Off Ole Shapara Avenue, Nairobi South "C". Tel. +254-2-605127. Fax. +254-2-604682.

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EcoNews Africa is also available on electronic conference at and locally at It is available on the following URL on the World Wide Web: www: http:/

Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 12:49:49 -0500 Subject: Africa: Econews Africa