The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftlich Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung—BMZ) is the cabinet-level ministry of the German government that works to encourage economic development within Germany and in other countries through international cooperation and partnerships. In 2014, BMZ established a budget specifically dedicated to freedom of expression, access to information, and media development. Before that, media development was funded through other budgets such as for education and governance.
BMZ supports projects in 24 other countries, working with governments as well as civil society, often seeking innovative ways to use emerging social media tools. BMZ’s principal partner in implementing media development projects is DW Akademie, a division of Germany’s largely state-funded international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW). Other grants are implemented by the German Corporation for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH), various German NGOs, political party foundations, and church-affiliated development services.
In the CIMA survey, each donor was asked to rate from high to low in terms of priority the types of media interventions it supports.
BMZ concentrates its media development projects in 25 countries, selected on regional analysis regarding freedom of expression in the context of general development policy priorities.
In response to CIMA’s survey of donors, BMZ listed several key challenges in its global media development support portfolio:
In 2016 BMZ spent €19,200,000 to fund media development projects aimed at strengthening freedom of expression, which is a key element of Germany’s international aid program. But this excludes activities that work with media within projects such as decentralization and conflict transformation, as well as media for development projects.
The regional breakdown of funding was as follows:
Latin America 14%
Media Development Funding in 2016
The DW Akademie supports a network of citizens’ rural radio stations called the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN), and offers training to staff of major private radio stations such as Joy FM and Peace FM. The aim is not only to better inform rural populations, but also to raise their ability to participate—via various media—in social and political dialogue.
The DW Akademie also supports Ghana’s Right to Information (RTI) Coalition and district level efforts to promote transparency and access to information. It has partnered with the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) to improve journalist training, including multimedia skills. The established campus radio station will be extended into an editorial training center. And there is active support for finding alternatives to the endemic problem of “brown envelope journalism,” where institutions or individuals pay journalists or editors to be sure they receive media coverage.
A DW Akademie project in Cambodia with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs focused on building skills for ministry staff to use Facebook more effectively and to “strengthen access to relevant information in particular for women.” In countries like Cambodia where traditional media are constrained, DW Akademie observes, “discussions about social or political topics are largely taking place in the internet, largely because it offers a space in which opinions can be expressed and discussed with relative freedom.”