The role of the private and independent media in Africa has changed dramatically in the past two decades as democracy and economic reform have taken root. Increasingly, vibrant and independent media are demonstrating rapid growth in terms of numbers of media outlets and size of audiences. The continent’s explosive adoption of mobile technology and its ability to pioneer new business models holds out the promise of greater entrepreneurial opportunities for African media in the future.
Yet quantity does not equal quality. Growth alone will not guarantee that medias can help address some of Africa’s most pressing challenges. As AMI’s extensive research and consultation shows through AMDI and STREAM, the sector is challenged by economic and political pressures, inadequate access to capital and market data, low professionalism and poor ethics, and the rapidly changing technological landscape.
Furthermore – in contrast to other areas of democratic governance and private sector development – donor aid to media is low, lacks consistency and a common strategy on how to position media in development strategies to promote citizen engagement and the accountability of duty bearers. It is these constraints that AMI addresses.
AMI has been shaped by the most comprehensive research and consultation process ever conducted on the media in Africa. This was done under the auspices of the BBC World Service Trust and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and is included in the 2005 G8 Gleneagles and Commission for Africa recommendations. All relevant regional stakeholders, from the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa through to every significant African media structure (owners, editors, journalists) have formally endorsed AMI, suggesting a powerful consensus that a healthy media sector is a requirement for improved growth, governance and accountability.
One of the flagship events of AMI is the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF). AMLF is an annual gathering that brings Africa’s top media leaders together with political leaders, development partners, technology experts and civil society.
AMI is headquartered in Nairobi,Kenya.