World Association of News Publishers

African Media Development Turns Notion of Africa on its Head

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African Media Development Turns Notion of Africa on its Head


“You can never have a conversation about Kenya these days without talking about the mobile revolution,” begins a recent op-ed column written by Dickens Olewe of The Star in Kenya, reflecting one of the most promising media development success stories on the continent.

If your think all African media is rudimentary or behind the times, think again.

Mr Olewe, a journalist and web administrator at The Star, has developed a platform to promote citizen journalism in Kenya, with the help of WAN-IFRA’s Mobile News for Africa Grant and Training scheme (MNFA).

“Kenya is now renowned around the world for its innovative mobile money system which has changed how people send, receive and save money; a concept that¹s currently being replicated the world over,” says Mr Olewe. “Concurrently, the mobile phone is leading another revolution; how people consume, share and interact with news.”

Called “Star Reports,” the Android application allows citizen journalists to easily upload their news reports to a dedicated website where readers can view the entire stream of content, or filter stories according to various categories and regions. Those stories are also fed into The Star’s workflow, where the newspaper and affiliated radio and television stations can pick up submitted content for development into stories featured in print or broadcast – a key benefit to help provide coverage of underserved areas of the country.

“Star Reports” is one of ten successful mobile applications developed by nine newspapers that participated in WAN-IFRA’s Mobile News project last year. An additional five newspapers in as many countries have been selected this year to work toward the development of mobile services that will benefit their organisations and readership.

“The projects being developed this year are very diverse and range from development of an SMS news alert app in Nigeria, to the revamping of a mobile journalism project in Cote D’Ivoire, to a mobile news alert and Mogadishu city guide in Somalia,” said Catharine Fulton, director of the Mobile News for African programme for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). “Some really innovative and interesting projects are sure to come from the newspapers we’ve engaged this year.”

Recipients of the 2012 MNFA grant are Hamar News Network, Somalia; The Windhoek Observer, Namibia; Naija247News, Nigeria; Abidjan Live News, Cote D’Ivoire; and Omnimedia, Ghana.

More on the project can be found at

The MFNA project has also produced a handbook,  “Mobile Media Services at Sub-Saharan African Newspapers: a Guide to Implementing Mobile News and Mobile Business,” co-published by WAN-IFRA and the African Media Initiative.

The handbook can be downloaded without charge from

Mobile News for Africa is part of a strategic partnership between WAN-IFRA and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to advance media development and press freedom worldwide.  More on the partnership and its projects can be found at

WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Deputy CEO and Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 96 bis, rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 07. Fax: +33 1 42 78 92 33. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36.

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In its media development work, the WAN-IFRA strategy focuses on bringing a new way of thinking to the sector. WAN-IFRA has become a key player in the field of financial independence and management capacity building, conducting groundbreaking research and developing subsequent media development policies. Read more ...

The African Press Network (RAP21) is a digital network that supports a strong independent press throughout Africa by sharing, distributing and exchanging information between newspaper publishers, editors, journalists and human rights advocates. Read more ...