Workshop on Rwanda’s Media Development Index

Mar 19, 2012

The UNDP Resident Representative, a.i. and Country Director, Mr. Auke Lootsma (far left), the Minister of State in charge of Cabinet Affairs, Hon. Protais Musoni (middle), and the Media High Council’s Chairman, Mr. Arthur Asiimwe (far right) opened the workshop (Photo: Timothy Kisambira)

Ministers, Members of Parliament, Development Partners, Media practitioners and stakeholders from various fields, participated today in a workshop on the new Media Development Index of Rwanda (MDI). The event was hosted by the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs (MINICAFF) and the Media High Council (MHC), through support from UNDP-Rwanda’s Inclusive Participation in Governance Programme (IPG).

A report by Transparency International-Rwanda was disseminated, illustrating the results from a pilot survey. Data collection tools of the MDI were tested. These tools are to be used in the second phase of the MDI, which was launched at the workshop, and consists of undertaking a national survey of the media sector, with provisional results expected to be ready by September 2012. “The pilot test was to test the tools that are to be used to undertake the national survey. What we have presented are the results of that test... we know that the tools are working ... that [they] are understandable, [and] ... that the indicators are covered,” Mr. Handa stated.

The MDI is to provide an on-going tool for capturing and assessing the media sector in Rwanda. It can prove to be a vital tool for driving the sector in the right direction, not only for journalists and media practitioners, but also for ”health professionals, policy makers and researchers,” as stated by the Chairman of MHC, Mr. Asiimwe. Moreover, it is to be used as a baseline for all stakeholders to continuously assess the state of the Rwandan media.

The second phase of the MDI, the national survey, will aim to create this baseline, by showing the actual state of the Rwandan media sector and provide an index for comparison with other countries. “The results of the national survey will then ensure very clearly where Rwanda media is, and can be used to compare Rwanda with the international community,” Mr. Handa stated.

UNDP-Rwanda is highly committed to the development of the media sector in Rwanda, and has supported the development of the MDI from its initial phase. “It is with the aim to support the Government of Rwanda’s demonstrated commitment to media reform that this is now figuring prominently as a pillar in UNDP’s governance programme that aims at fostering inclusive participation,” UNDP’s Resident Representative, a.i., and Country Director, Mr. Lootsma said during his opening remarks. He further explained, “We have a commitment with the different players in the media; the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, the MHC, but also with ... the association of journalists in terms of self-regulation, and supporting the different tools and mechanisms to support the overall media sector reform.”

 From left to right: Sheikh Habimana Swaleh, former Rwandan Mufti; Dr. Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC); and prof. Shyak Anastase, Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB)

A variety of challenges related to the media sector in Rwanda, such as information delivery mechanisms to reach people in rural areas, illiteracy rates and funding problems of the media houses were highlighted at the workshop. Respectively, a number of key areas for improvement and solutions to the existing challenges were discussed, in order to further develop the media sector and the MDI in the right direction.

The workshop proved to be an excellent platform for all participants to actively engage in a discussion of the further development of the MDI, as an important tool in the development of the Rwandan media sector. The hosts and participants agreed on the fact that media in Rwanda has come a long way after the 1994 genocide and the years following, but that a lot remains to be done. The MDI will provide vital tools to add value to what has already been done in the sector, and be an important instrument for transforming the media in Rwanda into a vibrant, competitive and professional sector.

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