Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has urged African governments to invest in the dissemination of the right information to their citizens.
He said that would help avert the “the total collapse of Africa’s already fragile economies in the coming months and it will be a way of achieving the necessary behavioural change that is required by Africans”.
In an article published by CNBC Africa, the former President said during his administration, a lot of emphasis was placed on building the private sector with a strong and vibrant media.
“During my tenure as the President of the Republic of Ghana, there was an increasingly profitable private sector-driven media and communications sector,” he said.
Touting his achievements in the area of media freedom, the former President said he made sure that the media were given the leverage to operate without any hindrance.
“Liberalising media freedom and the opening up of the economy are among the proudest achievements of my eight-year Presidency from January 2001 to January 2009, while elsewhere across much of the continent, with the rise of promising economic growth and development and an emergent independent media and telecommunication ecosystem, many African nations also began to embrace a new era of transparent and accountable governance,” he said.
Mr Kufuor expressed concern over the “regressive politics” which was gaining root in some countries.
“Late regressive politics has, however, taken hold of some countries, with ever more grim statistics of journalists being killed or attacked. The independent media have been taken over by governments or factional actors,” he submitted.
That development, he indicated, had drawn back Africa’s progress, with cascading effects on its people.
“Altogether, we have made very little progress as a continent in reforming our state broadcasters into the kind of independent public service broadcasters that
have been playing such a central role in informing people about the pandemic in countries such as the UK,” the former President said.
“Across most Africa countries, advertising has migrated wholesale from traditional broadcasters to new Internet platforms and undermined the financial viability of independent journalism,” he added.
By comparison, he noted that online digital revenues across Africa were negligible, unlike the old-fashioned media in industrialised countries where profitable digital operations were rapidly emerging.