The grant was part of the fifteen-million-dalasis (D15,000,000) relief package to the media by the Government, through the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure. The package was awarded to the media within the context of the national response to the global Covid-19 pandemic. More importantly, it was in recognition of the indispensable role of the media in the fight against the virus in The Gambia.
In the first round of disbursements, community radios were cumulatively given 10% of the funds out of which each of the eight stations benefited. The disbursement to the other news media sectors was as follows: commercial radios, 26% with a total number of 18 benefitting; newspapers, 25% with a total number of 5 benefitting; television stations, 20% with a total number of 2 benefitting, and the online media, 19% with a total number of 11 benefitting, making a total of 44 media houses.
After the first disbursement and the deduction of the grant management committee’s operational expenses, there was a balance of D1 million.
At a committee meeting on 15 July 2021, it was unanimously agreed to give the balance to the community radios.
This decision was taken because the expenditure records of community radios were largely compliant with the policy framework which outlines what and how the grant should be utilised. This was confirmed during the midterm and final monitoring and evaluation visits to the grant recipient media houses nationwide.
Apart from that, the committee also took cognisance of the fact that community radios are most prone to the impact of the pandemic on their already-weak revenue generating capacity.
Chairperson of the committee, Demba Ali Jawo, said: “Community radios are not allowed by their very nature to take adverts. Their main source of income is through patronage by some businesses and individuals in their communities. However, with the emergence of Covid-19, these patrons are themselves affected.”
Therefore, the decision to give an additional support to the community radios was fully in line with the objective of the grant, which is to help strengthen the institutional capacity of the news media sector in order to be more effective in delivering its mandate.
Meanwhile, the Grant Management Committee (GMC) wishes to announce that the final report of the committee’s work was delivered to the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure on 23rd July 2021. This followed the submission of the midterm report in March 2021.
After the submission of the final report, the GMC as constituted is dissolved. However, there remains a skeleton committee that includes the chairperson, the secretary and the coordinator for the purpose of overseeing the final formalities, including the auditing process.
Finally, in the name of the chairperson and all members that include and were represented by institutions like GPU, PURA, MOICI, and NAO, the GMC would like to thank the Government of The Gambia for this highly meaningful intervention. Thanks to the relief package, the majority of media outlets were able to sail through the first and second waves of Covid-19.