Regional journalists, Friday, unanimously resolved to format the East African Media Council as the apex body to manage the harmonisation of media laws and regulations in the East African region.
Meeting at the Fifth EAC Media Summit in Kigali, last week, the regional journalists also urged the five EAC partner states to support the movement of journalists and media services across the region as a way of addressing barriers such as work permits and high fees faced by journalists interested in covering regional issues.
There were over 200 participants, including media managers from the EAC.
“EAC Partner States should endeavour to emulate best practices from each other, such as access to information, use of national and work IDs for movement purposes and exchange of immigration officers, among others,” said a release issued at the end of the summit.
It also urged governments to harmonise all other supportive regulations, such as taxation regimes, non tariff barriers, customs related laws; address infrastructure bottlenecks and create necessary institutions with a view to enhancing cross border investment in the media sector.”
At the same meeting, the journalists and President Paul Kagame discussed ways of creating media and government alliance with the President urging journalists to tell ‘our story’ instead leaving it to the western media which often distort the facts.
The meeting acknowledged that EAC governments and the political leaders shied away from forming strong partnerships with the media, a trend that must stop to enable journalists get adequate access to information to tell the region’s story.
We are acknowledging the critical role played by the media in articulating and taking forward the agenda of the EAC integration process; they said, but we also recognise that the media has not yet fully and effectively articulated the opportunities, challenges, fears and interests of the people of East African Community in the integration process.
“Therefore, more support to the media in the EAC is needed for it to be vibrant, to report responsibly, and to promote regional integration; through this the citizens will comprehend the EAC story.”
The EAC Secretariat was also charged with creating clear policies for the media that will provide journalists with sufficient information on various aspects of EAC integration.
The two-day summit was held under the theme: Harnessing the EAC Common Market for Media Enterprise and Freedom.
By Ivan R. Mugisha, The New Times