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24.05.2022 10:42 News >> Media: Authentic African Voice Waiting To Be Heard

Media: Authentic African Voice Waiting To Be Heard

Turkish media in Africa faces challenge of breaking racist stereotype of us being seen as 'black savages', a xenophobic worldview that still dominates developed world’s attitude toward developing Africa.

Significant media ownership on our continent is confined to a handful of moguls hailing from South Africa, the East African region and Nigeria. Media freedom in Africa is fragile at best, with many countries only entertaining state-controlled outlets, and journalists working under duress.
Nonetheless, countries like South Africa do enjoy press freedom. We are ranked 32nd on the world freedom index, one notch above the United Kingdom, with Namibia, Cabo Verde and Ghana ranking above us, and enjoying a better score than many so-called bastions of western democracy in Europe.
Who is the face of Africa's media?
Koos Bekker of Naspers -a South African media titan- has a digital and print empire, said to be currently worth $22 billion. Naspers has offshore interests extending to China, where it has 29% share of the internet-based company, Tencent.
The IPP Media Group, founded by the late Tanzanian businessman and philanthropist, Reginald Mengi, owns three TV stations and nine newspapers, four of them are in English. In Nigeria, the controversial Prince Nduka Obaigbena, is the founding chairman of ThisDay Media Group and Arise News Channel.
In 1959, the Aga Khan founded the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa. His Nairobi-based Nation Media Group -now headed by Linus Gitahi- has operations in print, electronic and digital media, and attracts large audiences in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Media ownership in countries like Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa is proof of these countries having a higher average per capita digital penetration, with only 20% of the continent's 1.3 billion people enjoying access to the internet.
Digitalization in Africa
Kenya, with its innovative mobile wallet service, has 85% penetration, Nigeria 75% and South Africa 60%. Judging by the success of the Kenyan model, there is a great future for digital penetration via hand-held apps -such as cell phones- in developing African economies.
This is against the background of a stagnating print industry, and TV enjoying just over 40% penetration across the continent. With sub-Saharan Africa one of the poorest, least developed regions in the world, the cost of sets and satellite dishes, combined with a limited electricity supply, are challenges.
Radio is still the most important medium
According to UNESCO, the majority of Africans get their news via radio. For example, in Tanzania, over 80% of the population receives news this way, and even in a more tech-friendly South Africa, more than 90% of citizens tune in.
In 11 countries surveyed across Africa from 2000-2006, local commercial radio grew by an average of 360%, whereas community radio grew by 1,386% over the same period. This has had a huge impact on the continent's youth, who tune in every day, in large numbers.
Last year, for example, the Broadcasting Research Council of South Africa revealed that 95% of those between the ages of 15-24 said they listened to radio. 92% said they listened every week, and over 70% said they listened on a daily basis. Asked which content they preferred, news headed the list, with debates and discussions.
This points to African media uniquely facing the 4IR via traditional platforms, such as radio. In our communities, it finds its voice less encumbered by state interference, and more inspired by relevant local content.
Turkish media in Africa
Turkey's growing economic presence on the continent has been heralded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visiting it more times than any other head of state. The increase of Turkish embassies -from 10 to 40- speaks to this, as does the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, held since 2005, and the African Union granting the country observer status in 2008.
Turkish media in Africa is perhaps seen more through the lens of its dubbed dramas aired on our local TV networks, and the iconic series, Resurrection: Ertugrul. Good as this is, the message of the Turkey-Africa Summit needs to come through: a partnership in peace, security, justice, human-focused development and the fostering of sustainable growth.
Turkish media in Africa also faces the challenge of breaking the racist stereotype of us being seen as "black savages", a xenophobic worldview that still dominates the developed world's attitude toward developing Africa. It is a cliched mindset that suggests Africa is a basket-case, that we prefer to doze under coconut trees.
Africa presents challenges, undeniably, but the authentic, local voice of Africa needs to rise above the moribund pessimism of our politics, and the corruption of our elderly politicians, whom we no longer trust. For African civil society -young, dynamic, creative, innovative and energetic- is bursting to be heard.
*Opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency. -



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