African media challenged to push for ‘zero tolerance to corruption’ on continent

A report by the African Development Bank shows that about 50% of tax revenue and $30 billion in aid to Africa have been diverted away from development through corruption.

Media owners and practitioners in Africa have therefore been told that they can foster accountability and transparency in the public spheres, expose all forms of corruption and encourage best practices that address the governance challenges of the continent.

Speaking at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Kigali, Mr Said Adejumobi, Director of Governance and Public Administration Division (GPAD) 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.

In a press release issued by the ECA, he was cited as saying, “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,” 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.

Policy makers, researchers, media practitioners and members of the academia from Africa met in Kigali December 5 and 6, 2012 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”.

Antonio Pedro, Director of ECA’s subregional office in East Africa, also 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.

He therefore, urged 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, a report by the UNECA has noted.

Adewale Olaitan, Professor of Political Science and Vice Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria was quoted as saying, “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.”

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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