Gambia’s Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo says “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.” He made the statement at a workshop, in which the Accra based Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA), the Gambia Press Union, in collaboration with Gambia’s Ministry of Information and Infrastructure are stakeholders in the upcoming media sector reform earmarked for the Gambian press. Mr. Jawo has reaffirmed government’s commitment to compliment the efforts of the other stakeholders in order to accomplish such an important media project for the impoverished West African country.
The new media reform initiative is the first of its kind. It is part of the ongoing efforts to support and strengthen Gambia’s media industry to contribute effectively in the new democratic political dispensation. The Denmark based International Media Support (IMS) and Gambia Media Support (GAMES) are also stakeholders of the project.
Media experts will look into key issues such as legal, policy reforms, media capacity building, institutional development of local actors, and media transformation of the state controlled media among others. The project attracted stakeholders from various sectors of national development.
For a kick start, there is a 12 member group of local and international media experts mainly from media houses managers, editors, regulators, academicians, lawyers and policymakers to spearhead the project. Ms. Isha Davies, Director General of Gambia’s Information Services (GIS), is representing the Ministry of Information at the panel, while Bai Emil Touray, president of the Gambia Press Union is representing the local press. The duo co-chaired the group.
In coming weeks, there will be workshops, and consultations all geared towards equipping local journalists about their role in the democratization process. The task force will design a comprehensive strategic framework that will guide the media sector reform process. The Media Foundation has seconded a senior Program officer, in the person of Vivian Affoah, to the Gambia to work with the main journalist body GPU.
“ We are working on 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,” Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the MFWA remarked.
The Gambian private media was grossly censored under the rule of former dictator Yahya Jammeh. Local journalists here are exceedingly pleased with the media reform project.
Saikou Jammeh is the Secretary General of the Gambia press union. Mr. Jammeh observed that the media reform process has been very inclusive; hence he felt that the GPU has been empowered to lead a process that is ultimately about the development of the country.