Posts tagged as: first

Presidential Candidate Vows to Soldier on Despite Nude Photo Scandal

Photo: Cyril Ndegeya/The East African

Diane Shima Rwigara addresses a press conference, announcing her candidature for the Rwanda presidency.

Ever since Diane Shima Rwigara came out to express her political views — and later declared her intention to run for president of Rwanda in the August 4 elections — the 35-year-old has attracted praise and criticism in equal measure.

One week after nude photographs — which she has disowned — were circulated on social media a day after she announced her presidential bid, Ms Rwigara says she will not be deterred: “I will not stop. I am going to continue with my preparations. The incident made me stronger, more resilient and determined to continue with this cause,” she told The EastAfrican.

The photographs were released through an email titled “the shameless acts of Diane Shima Rwigara who wants to contest for presidency”, with the sender adding “look at our presidential candidate”. The sender identified himself/herself as Emmy Twahirwa and claimed to be a journalist.

Robert Mugabe, a journalist who has reportedly been associated with Ms Rwigara, later stated on Facebook that the photos were doctored and were the work of her detractors.

Following that, Ms Rwigara took a few days off the public scene and later told The EastAfrican that the photographs were manipulated.

The incident elicited sympathy for the US-educated activist-turned politician, with many condemning the act of shaming her and others called for investigation.

Bold

No government agency has commented on the nudes scandal nor has any official come out to publicly condemn the sharing of the photos or denounce the presidential hopeful over her supposed “questionable integrity”.

But Ms Rwigara, who on Wednesday May 10 went to the National Electoral Commission to present the list of people who will sign for her and pick documents needed for the purpose, attracted wide coverage.

As an independent candidate, she must raise 600 signatures, at least 20 from each of the 30 districts. She believes that once she makes it to the ballot, she would make a good case and race against President Paul Kagame, who is widely expected to win the August 4 polls with a landslide.

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Ms Rwigara, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from the California State University, Sacramento and a master’s degree in accounting from California State University, San Francisco, has surprised many with her boldness.On February 23, she held a press conference where she described herself as a “concerned Rwandan and activist” but denied intending to engage in politics. She highlighted several issues the country was facing that she said needed to be addressed urgently. Among these, she said, were the growing levels of poverty and hunger, which she said the government did not want to recognise, let alone address.”I am neither a politician nor a member of any political party,” Ms Rwigara told The EastAfrican shortly after the press conference, adding that she decided to speak out about the issues “because no one else appeared willing to speak about them.”On May 3, she called another press conference, during which she announced her intention to pit candidature against President Kagame.No freedom of press“The reason I am contesting is because our country has a stained past. The RPF government has achieved a number of things, attempted to deliver on others but completely failed on several aspects. Rwandans still face many challenges including poverty, hunger and injustices in all sections of the society,” she said.Ms Rwigara also said there was no freedom of press and expression in Rwanda, pointing out that none of the media were critical while those who tried to criticise the government often ended up in trouble, pointing out that she was ready to raise those concerns on behalf of the people.”We have cases of insecurity as people disappear without trace, some are killed while others flee the country. Most Rwandans know these but won’t speak out because of fear,” she said.Indeed, her move caught many off-guard, in a country where many people prefer silence rather than point out issues affecting them. A lot of talk followed her press conference, with many wondering where she got the guts to run for the country’s highest office.Several other prospective candidates have announced similar intentions for the top job in Rwanda, among them Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, former journalist Philippe Mpayimana and Gilbert Mwenedata, who will contest as independent candidates.InjusticesThe daughter of Assinapol Rwigara, a prominent businessman and RPF member, who died in February 2015 in an accident, Ms Rwigara maintains that her political ambitions were her personal decision and should not be in any way connected to her family.The embattled family has been in the limelight since the passing on of the tycoon after it contested the police version of the circumstances under which Mr Rwigara died. They went as far as petitioning President Kagame to call for an inquiry into the death.Since then, the family found itself in trouble when Kigali city authorities demolished a hotel of the deceased businessman because “it did not have the necessary permits”. Several of Mr Rwigara’s properties were also repossessed by the City of Kigali administration.Ms Rwigara maintains that she is not driven by anger or disgruntled by events surrounding her family, but says the manner in which her father died are some of the injustices she is willing to fight to correct.Her bid has not been helped by support from ‘renowned enemies’ of Kigali, including members of the Rwanda National Congress, an exiled group which Rwanda refers to as a criminal organisation, and of which one of her exiled uncles Benjamin Rutabana is a member.Ms Rwigara denies being a member of the group or any other political party, existing inside or outside the country.

Biziyaremye Looks to Bounce Back After Recovering From Injury

By Geoffrey Asiimwe

Last weekend, Joseph Biziyaremye made a promising return to cycling after being out of action for six months due to injury. He participated in the second race of the 2017 Rwanda Cycling Cup which was his first as he looks to return to the top of his game. The third race, dubbed ‘Race to Remember’ that will start from Ruhango town heading to Karongi district plus a circuit is slated for this Saturday.

The 29-year-old Biziyaremye was involved in a career-threatening accident while competing in the 2016 Tour du Rwanda, during the stage five ( Muhanga to Musanze) less than a kilometre to the finish line after knocking down a spectator who was trying to cross the road.

Biziyaremye had a concussion and was rushed to King Faisal Hospital in Kigali where he stayed for seven weeks receiving treatment.

The accident occurred just a day after he finished second in stage four (Rusizi-Huye) also known as ‘Nyungwe Challenge’ that was won by Joseph Areruya, who now rides for South Africa-based UCI Continental Team Dimension Data.

Last Saturday, during the Farmers’ Circuit race; Kigali to Nyagatare; the former Cine Elmay rider made his return to competitive cycling for the first time since last November, riding for Kayonza-based Muhazi Cycling Generation.

He finished in ninth place posting less than two minutes behind the winner, Jean Claude Uwizeye of Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana.

Uwizeye won the 152-kilomtre race using 3 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds, while Biziyaremye posted 3 hours, 43 minutes and 22 seconds.

“I have fully recovered, and I felt strong in last week’s race after almost four weeks of training. Finishing ninth was really a great performance for me especially given than I had been out for over six months after my accident. I believe I will be much better in the next race,” he told Times Sport.

The Kamonyi-born rider was among the five cyclists that raced for the national team (Team Rwanda) during 2016 Tour du Rwanda-others were Eric Nduwayo and now retired duo of Nathan Byukusenge and Abraham Ruhumuriza..

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Ms Geek Africa Winner On Her Project and Future Plans

Photo: The New Times

First Lady Jeannette Kagame hands Ms Geek Africa winner Waiganjo her prize.

interviewBy Sharon Kantengwa

This year, Girls in ICT Rwanda in partnership with Smart Africa secretariat expanded the competition to all its member states to crown the first ever Ms. Geek Africa. Among the top 17 contestants from various transform Africa member states, Ruth Njeri Waigano, emerged the winner of the 2017 Miss Geek Africa and walked away with a Rwf3 million cash prize that was presented to her by First Lady Jeannette Kagame. The event concluded last week at the Kigali Convention Centre. She had a chat with Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa about her project and opportunities for the future.

Tell us about yourself?

I am studying Computer Science at the University of Nairobi and I’m in my fourth and final year. I love technology because it’s so broad and things keep changing so you have to keep learning. I like reading books; they say that the book is always better than the movie. I read self-help books to help me become better.

Tell us about your project and what inspired it?

In my school when you get to fourth year, you are required to come up with a project, so I had to think of a project to do. A very nice professor gave us project suggestions and mentioned that there was a project he was working on where they were collecting data from matatus (public transportation) in Kenya. He told us one of the things that the data could be used for is driver profiling, and I decided to take up the idea.

When an accident happens, an insurance company doesn’t have real time information showing when, how, who and where the incident occurred. They rely on Police inspection reports that are sometimes not accurate. My technology solution responds to transport problems like frequent accidents and collects data through a mobile app, ‘Safe Drive’. The data will not only be used in driver profiling, but also, analysing the data on the road and can alert the driver of traffic congestion on a route.

Are there chances that your project will be developed into a fully functioning solution for Africa?

I’m currently working on it as a fourth year project in school, and maybe with that I can test it out and see the response it gets first in Kenya. It is a good project, especially for improving road safety.

How popular is tech innovation amongst school going girls in Kenya?

It is not as popular as it is in Rwanda. I was surprised to find the youngest among us in the Ms Geek competition was Crystal who is 16. My sister is 16 as well, but she is not exposed to technology innovation like that. There are, however, some competitions called ‘science congress’ where high schoolers also innovate. I attended one in high school and now there are programmes being carried out to teach high school girls to code, so the next step I guess might be innovation.

During your time as Ms Geek do you see yourself changing the state of affairs in regards to girls involving themselves in STEM?

I knew I had to share my story on how I got to Ms Geek in order for more girls to reach out for these opportunities. I had also started a mentorship programme before coming to Ms Geek in my school to mentor the first and second year female students.

This was a competition that involved ideas from several African states. Did you think that you could win?

I wanted to, I knew I could, but the other projects were good and the other girls were good as well. So there wasn’t a point where I was sure, but I knew all I had to do was my best.

During the competition, why do you think you beat the other girls?

I think it’s because I worked on the questions the judges had asked previously in-depth and totally incorporated in my pitch. With the questions they asked in the final pitch, I was able to answer most of them nicely showing I really knew about my project.

Africa: Ms Geek Africa Winner On Her Project and Future Plans

Photo: The New Times

First Lady Jeannette Kagame hands Ms Geek Africa winner Waiganjo her prize.

interviewBy Sharon Kantengwa

This year, Girls in ICT Rwanda in partnership with Smart Africa secretariat expanded the competition to all its member states to crown the first ever Ms. Geek Africa. Among the top 17 contestants from various transform Africa member states, Ruth Njeri Waigano, emerged the winner of the 2017 Miss Geek Africa and walked away with a Rwf3 million cash prize that was presented to her by First Lady Jeannette Kagame. The event concluded last week at the Kigali Convention Centre. She had a chat with Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa about her project and opportunities for the future.

Tell us about yourself?

I am studying Computer Science at the University of Nairobi and I’m in my fourth and final year. I love technology because it’s so broad and things keep changing so you have to keep learning. I like reading books; they say that the book is always better than the movie. I read self-help books to help me become better.

Tell us about your project and what inspired it?

In my school when you get to fourth year, you are required to come up with a project, so I had to think of a project to do. A very nice professor gave us project suggestions and mentioned that there was a project he was working on where they were collecting data from matatus (public transportation) in Kenya. He told us one of the things that the data could be used for is driver profiling, and I decided to take up the idea.

When an accident happens, an insurance company doesn’t have real time information showing when, how, who and where the incident occurred. They rely on Police inspection reports that are sometimes not accurate. My technology solution responds to transport problems like frequent accidents and collects data through a mobile app, ‘Safe Drive’. The data will not only be used in driver profiling, but also, analysing the data on the road and can alert the driver of traffic congestion on a route.

Are there chances that your project will be developed into a fully functioning solution for Africa?

I’m currently working on it as a fourth year project in school, and maybe with that I can test it out and see the response it gets first in Kenya. It is a good project, especially for improving road safety.

How popular is tech innovation amongst school going girls in Kenya?

It is not as popular as it is in Rwanda. I was surprised to find the youngest among us in the Ms Geek competition was Crystal who is 16. My sister is 16 as well, but she is not exposed to technology innovation like that. There are, however, some competitions called ‘science congress’ where high schoolers also innovate. I attended one in high school and now there are programmes being carried out to teach high school girls to code, so the next step I guess might be innovation.

During your time as Ms Geek do you see yourself changing the state of affairs in regards to girls involving themselves in STEM?

I knew I had to share my story on how I got to Ms Geek in order for more girls to reach out for these opportunities. I had also started a mentorship programme before coming to Ms Geek in my school to mentor the first and second year female students.

This was a competition that involved ideas from several African states. Did you think that you could win?

I wanted to, I knew I could, but the other projects were good and the other girls were good as well. So there wasn’t a point where I was sure, but I knew all I had to do was my best.

During the competition, why do you think you beat the other girls?

I think it’s because I worked on the questions the judges had asked previously in-depth and totally incorporated in my pitch. With the questions they asked in the final pitch, I was able to answer most of them nicely showing I really knew about my project.

Rayon Sports Seal 2016/17 League Title

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times

Rayon sports players and fans celebrate after beating Mukura Victory Sport to win the 2017 National Premier League.

By Geoffrey Asiimwe

Rayon Sports are 2016/17 Azam Rwanda Premier League Champions following their 2-1 win against Mukura VS, yesterday, at Stade de Kigali.

A brace from Malian striker Mousa Camara was enough to see Rayon claim this season’s title with four matches to spare, ending three years of wait.

The win took Rayon to 67 points, an unassailable 13 ahead of the former champions APR.

Djuma Masudi’s side started the game with aggressiveness in search for an early goal and this yielded them a brilliant free-kick in the 12th minute.

Midfield maestro Pierrot Kwizera curled in a very perfect ball that found Camara set and headed in a powerful ball that went straight at the back of the net sending Rayon fans into wild celebrations.

Camara had missed Rayon’s previous three games through suspension after escaping from the club’s camp without permission.

Despite giving Rayon a tough time during their first-round tie in Huye that ended 1-1, Ivan Minnaert’s Mukura did not pose any real threat in the first half.

Two minutes to half time break, Camara came close to scoring his second goal after a clear pass from Kwizera Pierrot, left him with only goalie Mpazimpaka to beat, however his powerful shot went wide.

The Malian snatched a brace in the 54th minute, his tenth of the season as he dribbled past Mukura VS defenders following a long ball from goalie Eric Ndayishimiye, to comfortably net past Mazimpaka.

However, celebrations in Rayon camp were cut short by Yousouf Habimana in the 56th minute following a brilliant cross from Christopher Ndayishimiye, which he headed in to give Mukura a consolation.

Despite Mukura making scary attempts in the final minutes to equalize, Rayon stood firm and contained them hence winning the game 2-1.

The loss left the Huye-based side Mukura VS ranked ninth with 32 points.

This is Rayon’s eighth league title after winning it in 1975, 1981, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2013.

Rayon Sports will represent Rwanda at next year’s Total CAF Champions League. The champions are also still in contention for the Peace Cup title. They will face Police FC in thequarter finalround next month for a place in the semifinals.

Wednesday

Rayon Sport 2-1 Mukura

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Rwanda: New Deal Seeks to Encourage Investments in Youth Agribusiness

By Elias Hakizimana

Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) has signed a five-year partnership with Ghanaian African Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN) to support youth in agribusiness.

The partnership is hinged on encouraging the youth to change their attitude and invest some money before seeking support from other partners as well as mobilising funding for youth agribusinesses.

Alex Ariho, the chief executive of AAIN, said the first capital is information and positive attitude.

“It is important that African youth and, particularly youth in Rwanda, acknowledge that they have got the first capital; the first capital in business is attitude you have toward what you intend to do, the second capital is information,” Ariho said.

“I am happy to hear that the youth here are very active in terms of using ICT. If you are able to use social media, to use journalism to create a positive attitude to investors about investing, the third capital will come when you already have the two fundamental elements of investments: information and positive attitude.”

He identified capital in different forms, including human capital, infrastructure, technology, seed investment and policy framework.

“For the youth to propose or to start businesses and create jobs, they need the four elements. We are committed to that partnership and will achieve it because youth have the four forms of capital,” Ariho said.

He added that their priority in terms of investing in the youth will be to pick the four elements and package them into collaborative framework, between the African Agribusiness Incubator Network and the Government of Rwanda.

Ariho said they will also build youth capacity to learn successful businesses using incubation models particularly mentoring.

“Of course, we also target direct investment in youth trade and investments where we make sure that there is output and input market infrastructure development for the products that are produced by African youth, by the Rwandan youth and consumed there. We will ensure that in the next five to 10 years, we have created a number of jobs and increased income in households, among smallholder farmers, in SMEs and created new businesses,” Ariho noted.

Speaking to the media, Jean Baptiste Hategekimana, the chairperson of RYAF, said the initiative will benefit more than 1,400 youths from the five clusters of the forum by equipping them with skills and other resources.

He said they expected fruitful impact from the agreement with AAIN because the signing comes after they have already begun working together.

“We do believe that with this partnership, we will be able to learn from other youth in Africa and learn through the ways they have passed and succeeded,” Hategekimana said.

“As we are only a year into the forum, these people are experts on the continent and if we can plan a project together to train 200 youth or equip them with other support as well as bringing investors, it will be easy for us to understand the philosophy of success as we will be working with professionals in certain programmes,” Hategekimana said.

Donat Nishyirembere, the in-charge of youth entrepreneurship at the National Youth Council, said the youth can gain from the incubation network to shape their ideas.

“The National Youth Council commits to support this initiative as we believe it will ensure access to the global markets and increase capacity for youth; and they will be able to take their businesses to another level,” said Nishyirembere.

Pacifique Uwineza, the chairperson of chamber for youth entrepreneurs at the Private Sector Federation, said through networking, the youth will learn from each other in terms of job creation.

South Africa: Minister Eyes R20 Billion in Med Scheme Tax Credits for NHI Fund

Cape Town — Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, says the tax credits that are being earmarked for the establishment of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund amount to R20 billion.

The Minister said this when he tabled the Department of Health’s Budget Vote in the Old Assembly Chamber in Parliament on Tuesday.

This comes after former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in his February Budget Speech that government was looking at setting up a NHI Fund and that in setting up the proposed fund, a number of options would be explored, including possible adjustments to the tax credit on medical scheme contributions.

“… The tax credits mentioned in the February 2017 Budget Speech by Treasury is a whooping R20 billion. Yes, R20 billion that in 2015 and annually will leave the fiscus through the SA Revenue Service [and] back to the pockets of people simply because they are members of a medical aid scheme (sic),” the Minister said on Tuesday.

Addressing Members of Parliament, the Minister said returning these tax credits back to medical aid schemes, instead of using it for universal health coverage, did not make sense.

The Minister said the time has come to use the fund to level the playing fields and provide services that would benefit the less privileged.

“This is the worst form of social injustice committed in the name of the cream of the South African society with our full participation… We believe the time to change and move towards economic equity as O.R Tambo had declared, has now arrived.

“We are proposing that the first step towards implementation of NHI is to pick up those who are outside the system of medical aids and provide services for them through the NHI Fund, which must be created from, among others, the R20 billion tax credits,” he said.

What the NHI can be used for

Minister Motsoaledi said, meanwhile, that in a massive reorganisation of school health during the first phase of the NHI pilot, the department has completed the screening of 3.2 million school kids for physical barriers to learning, including eyesight, hearing, speech and oral health.

He said a total of 500 004 school kids were found to have several problems. This includes 8 891 children with speech problems that will need a speech therapist; 34 094 children with hearing problems that will need an audiologist or maybe hearing aids; 119 340 with eyesight problems that will need an optometrist, ophthalmologist or maybe spectacles, and 337 679 children with oral health problems that may need a dentist, dental therapist or oral hygienists.

Minister Motsoaledi said the NHI Fund will, once established, be used to help the 500 000 children that have been screened.

“We will provide free antenatal care in the form of eight visits to a doctor to each of the 1.2 million women who fall pregnant annually. We would also provide them with family planning, provide for breast and cervical cancer screening as well as treatment where appropriate,” he said.

The Minister said through the fund, the department would also be able to provide better services for mental health users including screening and subsequent services.

The elderly would also benefit by being given assistive devices like spectacles, hearing aids and wheelchairs. The department would also be able to provide assistive devices to people living with disabilities.

“We will also deal with the backlog of blindness caused by cataracts. The backlog is now 270 000 elderly people who are presently blind and are awaiting cataract removal.

“We can perform 90 000 operations a year for the next three years to clear the backlog. This to us will be the beginning of revolutionising the way healthcare is provided in our country,” Minister Motsoaledi said.

Nigeria: Telecoms Sector Contributes N15 Trillion to GDP – NCC

Nigeria’s telecommunications sector contributed over N15 trillion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since the liberalisation of the sector, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the disclosure at an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos on Tuesday.

Danbatta said the sector’s contribution to the GDP increased from eight per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 to nine per cent in the first quarter of this year.

He said that since his assumption of office about 18 months ago, the industry had been adding between N1.43 trillion and N1.45 trillion to the economy every quarter.

Danbatta said that his administration had been implementing the eight-point agenda it set out for itself to achieve.

He said that the quality of service offered by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) had not been impressive but that there had been an improvement in the first quarter of this year.

According to him, continuing drop in service quality has really created a huge gap between consumers and the MNOs.

He argued that poor quality of service was a reason for drops in mobile subscriptions.

“The commission will review the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for the operators to meet, with a resolve that any of the MNOs that failed to meet up will be adequately sanctioned,” Danbatta said.

Speaking on the continuous drop in telephone subscriptions in the country, the NCC chief disclosed that the commission discovered that some subscribers were migrating from Third Generation (3G) to 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.

“So they would rather use WhatsApp to communicate and even make free calls.

“Consumers are moving away from high tariff services to cheaper and free services,” he added.

The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management of the commission, Mr Sunday Dare, said that the commission had already read the riot act to service providers on poor services.

Dare said that this year’s first quarter KPI result was under review.

He said that there was no deadline on improving QoS on the part of the operators but that sanctions were on the cards.

“NCC is not in the habit of giving deadlines but when we get to giving deadlines, then know that we had sounded it long enough for the operators to improve,” Dare said.

NAN

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Who Is to Blame for Underage Drinking?

opinionBy David Talima

In 2014, the Straight Talk Foundation carried out a baseline survey in four districts focusing on underage drinking.

The survey, carried out in the four districts of Adjumani, Soroti, Nwoya and Kitgum revealed that four per cent of parents interviewed consumed alcohol in their homes.

In Uganda today, it is illegal to sell alcohol to children and persons under the age of 18. However, it is common practice for parents to send their children to the local pub to buy them alcoholic beverages and bartenders and shopkeepers also sell the alcoholic beverages to the children without question.

Where then do you draw the line between a child that is buying alcohol for their parents and one that has moved on to purchasing it for themselves? Those on social media have been exposed to horrifying images of adults giving alcohol to their children and even to toddlers.

Further, the Straight Talk Foundation survey revealed that a good number of teachers in the mentioned areas teach while under the influence of alcohol. School-going children spend most of their time at school with peers and under the guardianship of their teachers.

As influential figures in society, what kind of example are these teachers setting for the learners if they are openly abusing alcohol?

Another study, done in March and April of 2014 in select slums around Kampala, by Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL), found that 46 per cent of the youth aged between 12 and 18 take alcohol.

Among the adverse effects that this study unearthed was that alcohol consumption among the underage led to a rise in school dropouts, health problems and worse, in many cases, engaging in sexual behavior.

It is very easy to blame alcohol beverage companies for underage drinking or blame it on adolescence and unruly teenagers, but when you look back, the adults closest to these teenagers have played a huge part in shaping the perceptions of these children about alcohol and in initiating the children into alcohol consumption at an early age.

In more advanced economies, the age limit for alcohol is strictly adhered to with all bars and stores requiring identification (to ascertain age) before they serve customers suspected to be under the legal purchasing age.

Now, with national identity cards available in Uganda, it is imperative that an ID check is strictly observed, especially for consumers that look suspiciously underage.

We have seen self-regulation of alcoholic beverage companies like Uganda Breweries Limited in terms of not placing advertising content during family shows, not advertising on radio until late in the evening and actively advocating zero tolerance to underage drinking.

These need to work hand-in-hand with deliberate actions starting at home in the family unit and community level to reduce exposure of their children to alcohol .

So, while both government, from legislation and enforcement perspectives, and the alcohol companies have their responsibilities to play in terms of minimizing exposure and access of underage children to alcohol, parents, teachers and guardians play a bigger role in ensuring they are the first gatekeepers between their children and alcohol.

The author is the director of programs at Straight Talk Foundation Uganda.

May the Last Journalist Not Switch Off the Lights, Please!

By Yusuf Serunkuma

The media industry is experiencing a consistent exodus of talent. The most recent departure is The Observer’s editor Richard Kavuma.

Because he was a ‘big drum’ in the industry, there have been several column inches about him. Many more ‘small drums’ continue to leave just after a few years. Although we never read about their departures, the damage to the industry is registered.

For almost the same reasons, I left The Independent just after a year. Editor Joseph Were had invested quite a bit of resources in me as he looked at a potential sub-editor. With a few final touches away, I hit the exit button.

If things remain the way they are, the departures will only continue. And as we mourn these departures – of both junior and senior journalists – our diagnosis of the problem is right, but we seem to have no cure.

Identifying the problem as small salaries, journalist Daniel Kalinaki attributed the failure for media houses to pay their journalists well to “the relatively small size of the market and the economy,” which makes it difficult for “media houses to train, pay and retain their best journalists” who end up going “often to better-paying, less-stressful, communications jobs.”

As a prescription, Kalinaki suggests that “citizens must understand the need for good journalism, and be willing to pay for it.”

He continues that citizens should be “willing to pay for good journalism and good journalism will pay for good journalists to stay in the newsroom.”

It is difficult to explain what Kalinaki meant with “citizens must understand the need for good journalism and be willing to pay for it.”

Did he mean to suggest more “citizens” should buy newspapers? How do you ensure that? Did he mean to suggest citizens should fundraise for newspapers through car-washes and runs? How sustainable would this be?

Seemingly overwhelmed, Kalinaki chastened himself with a challenge to his readers “to figure out how best to keep talent within the newsroom,” insisting that citizens ought to do something.

There are two things we can pick from Kalinaki’s rather succinct articulation of the plight of Uganda’s media industry. First, Kalinaki reminds us that citizens are central to this fight as good journalism is important for development since “few societies have progressed without the free flow of ideas, and [without] freedom of thought, expression and the media.”

Second, by noting that departures rob the media of “experience and institutional memory, weaken the quality of [Ugandan] journalism and keeps the market small,” Kalinaki tells us that sustained good journalism has potential to grow/expand the market and, perhaps, then, media houses (perhaps through more copy sales?) will be able to offer big enough salaries and retain their staff.

It is evident that Kalinaki views both the problem and solution as coming from the market. Small market, media is suffering; big market, media will flourish. It is my contention that subjecting media to the whims of the market in sub-Saharan Africa is actually the problem.

Neo-liberal reforms of the 1980s put everything in the [free] market. The government stopped offering support to farmers, universities, health institutions and companies, subjecting everything to the market forces of demand and supply.

The problem with this was that several African societies had not fully developed to a stage where the market could sustain growth. Indeed, as several studies showed, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund pushed these reforms onto the African continent oblivious of context.

In an effort to fight communist Russia as part of the Cold War, notions of free market economies operational in highly developed capitalist and industrialized societies in Europe and North America were imposed on largely agrarian and semi-illiterate Africa.

Very quickly, farms crumbled, businesses collapsed, healthcare and education deteriorated as the market could not sustain them. Indeed, over the years, governments have, albeit timidly, moved away from these reforms: Operation Wealth Creation and Entandikwa schemes in Uganda are good examples.

We need to fit the media into this analysis: with poorly educated folks, subsisting on the land, and zero industrialization, the market in Uganda cannot sustain the media. If the media – both critical and pro-government – is good for development, then the public has to pay for it through the public purse, not through the market.

It is no surprise that the New Vision does fairly well as it gets a great deal of support from government. Now, in semi-democratic regimes across the continent, it would be daydreaming to expect governments to put money in critical news outlets without influencing the narrative.

It would be risking Daily Monitor and The Observer to the vampires in government if they were to receive government subsidies.

This predicament notwithstanding, we need to start seeing the media – especially critical media -as a public good which ought to be taken, at least partly, away from the market, and funded from the public purse. We can discuss the historical, implementation and policy details on another day.

The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.

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