Monday, March 27

Media Development Indicators Report in The Gambia Launched –

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By Yunus S Saliu

 The Minister of Information, Hon Lamin Queen Jammeh has Thursday, 16th March 2023 launched the Media Development Indicators Report in The Gambia the launch of the report was held at the Bakadaji Hotel, Kotu.

Launching the report, Hon Lamin Queen Jammeh expressed gratitude to The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO and its partners including personnel of the former Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure and Civil Society Organizations for the partnership.

He said the partnership has yielded the dividend of producing and launching the Media Development Indicators Report in the Gambia 2023.

The Minister noted that the “Media Development Indicators Report launching in every country can only be seen as a welcomed development. An important justification for this can be seen in the commitment that the Barrow administration has committed itself to the democratization of state and public life in The Gambia since assumed political power and authority in 2017.”

He cited the enactment of the access to information Act (ATI) as evidence of his assertion while outlining the importance and its specific focus which include providing a regulatory system favourable to freedom of expression, political pluralism, and diversity through a level economic playing field and transparency. 

Also, to upholding a system that is supportive of professional capacity building to all actors within the sector as well as rendering support to those institutions whose goals and conduct are mutual with the ideals and values of freedom of expression political pluralism, and diversity of opinions.

Dilating on the Media Development Indicators Report in The Gambia, Modou S Joof, Secretary-General of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) expressed the union’s delight to be associated with the launch of the report.

He said the first Media Development Indicators Report would give the union a broader idea of the Gambian media landscape and the level of progress recorded in terms of development, as well as the numerous challenges and gaps that exist – which are an impeding factor in ensuring media independence and pluralism. 

“At the Gambia Press Union, we have followed with keen interest the development of the media sector in terms of improved press freedom, a proliferation of media houses, and improved professional development,” SG Joof noted. 

He went further that they have seen an increase in the number of private radio stations by almost 75%, with 39 FM stations in operation as of 2021, according to data from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), which is responsible for the registration of broadcast media. 

While adding that Gambians now enjoy the luxury of watching multiple local television channels, with five private television stations in operation, in addition to the national television which was the only TV station until 2017 when television broadcasting services were liberalised. 

More so, there are seven newspapers, with five regularly published print versions, nine community radio stations, and at least twenty online news media platforms. This means that more people now have access to the media to express their opinions on issues concerning their lives and livelihoods, and on issues of government and governance. 

Among other issues, SG Joof as well iterated that the economic well-being of journalists remains precarious, making the news media industry economically unattractive and seen as an employer of last resort. A report published by the GPU in 2020 on the Working Conditions of Media Workers in The Gambia shows that the average salary for media workers is D3,750 ($75) per month, with over 70% of media workers believing that they are not fairly rewarded for their work. 

Presenting the assessment of Media Development in The Gambia to the Hon Minister of Information for launching, Michel Elvis Kenmoe, Head of Communication and Information Sector, and Adviser for Communication and Information, UNESCO Dakar took his time to explain the 86-page Assessment of Media Development Indicators Report in The Gambia based on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators.

He explained all five categories in the report while general questions and answers followed.