Among all the world's media markets, the size and state of African media are least understood, due to a lack of viable data and research. A new report on media in Kenya, released on Thursday, 8 November 2012, by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the African Media Initiative, is a step toward filling this knowledge gap.
The report, part of a larger study of media in emerging and developing markets, focuses on a country that has arisen on the world stage as a dynamic new democracy, where technological innovation flourishes, traditional media businesses thrive, and the government operates with unprecedented openness.
Print and broadcast media have developed trusted, credible voices and play important roles in the national dialogue. Journalists and technologists have collaborated on energetic, leading-edge projects that are being replicated elsewhere. Kenya is now seen as a beacon of press freedom in the region and is being celebrated for innovation.
At the same time, the report notes some troubling realities.
The newly free media are subject to crippling reprisals under legacy libel laws. Vast numbers of people are not served by television, smartphones, or the internet. The infrastructure needed to reach them is expensive and elusive. There are socio-economic and geographic divides between urban and rural audiences: less than one quarter of the population lives in urban areas equipped with modern technology. Outside the major cities, mobile and internet sources of news are unavailable and too often unaffordable and are likely to remain so in the medium term.
The full report, released at the African Media Leaders Forum in Dakar, Senegal, can be downloaded
"Media are undergoing unprecedented growth in many African countries, yet viable data in many markets is simply unavailable," said Larry Kilman, deputy CEO of WAN-IFRA, speaking at the report's release at the African Media Leaders Forum.
"The continent has also been a major recipient of media development funds, but in many ways development agencies are operating in the dark. More knowledge is needed to make this aid even more effective. This report, and our ongoing work with AMI, is aimed at filling this knowledge gap," he said.
AMI's CEO, Amadou Mahtar Ba, said: "AMI is pleased to partner with WAN-IFRA on this research report, which not only offers important insights into the Kenyan case but also acts as an important resource base of best practices and successful business media models for countries across the continent."
The Kenya report is part of a multi-year research project on "Financially Viable Media in Emerging and Developing Markets" that has produced country reports on Egypt, Georgia, Vietnam and Mozambique. Reports on Tunisia and Colombia are due later this year. In parallel, WAN-IFRA conducts surveys to analyse trends in newsrooms across the globe, relying on the vast, global WAN-IFRA membership to participate in research.
WAN-IFRA's research and media development initiatives are part of a strategic partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to advance media development and press freedom worldwide.
WAN-IFRA's partnership with the African Media Initiative is dedicated to strengthening media business in Africa, by expanding access to finance, development of new revenue streams, harnessing the digital revolution through technological adaptation and innovation, and building a competent leadership through a commitment to improved ethics and management."