The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) will from February 18 to 19, 2009 hold a Stakeholders Consultative Roundtable in Accra, Ghana to finalize preparations for the establishment of the West Africa Media Development Fund (WAMDEF). The opening ceremony will be chaired by Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu.
WAMDEF, a brain-child of the MFWA, with the support of Free Voice, a Dutch media support organisation, when operational, will address financial challenges of the private and independent media organisations in West Africa by providing eligible institutions loans and investments facilities. The Fund will also grow the media houses so as to enable them remain vibrant, and independent of all institutions.
“The place and role of free media in democratisation and national development are not debatable issues anymore. However, the economic threats to the sustenance of independent media in our sub-region tend to subvert the media’s vital role, and therefore democracy as well,” said Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of the MFWA.
The establishment of the fund has been necessitated by the inability of an estimated 5,000 private media entrepreneurs in West Africa to access financial and technical resource from traditional financial institutions owing to the peculiarities of the media business.
The stakeholders, mainly media interest groups and representatives of banks and financial institutions, are expected to review and endorse proposals for the establishment of the Fund. The participants are also expected to demonstrate their commitment and make recommendations for the operationalizing of the Fund.
“This will boost the media industry in the sub-region, and promote in the medium to long-term higher professional standards in media practice too,” according to the Executive Director.
The WAMDEF process began in 2006, with studies on 10 out of the 16 countries in the ECOWAS region. These countries include Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso and Cote. D’Ivoire.