This year, 2014, marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the symbolic end of the Cold War in 1989. It also marks the anniversary of the beginning of an extraordinary proliferation of media outlets in sub-Saharan Africa, which swept across the continent, freeing Africa’s press and liberating the airwaves from monopoly by the state. Economics, technology, and socio-political forces all played major roles in this boom of Africa’s media. But one of the untold stories of these changes is the role of donor aid in this process.
This is the subject of the Center for International Media Assistance’s latest report, Africa’s Media Boom: The Role of International Aid, by veteran international media consultant Mary Myers. It explores these questions:
· How much of a catalyst were foreign donors in this mushrooming of Africa’s news media?
· What were the motives and mechanisms of this aid?
· What difference did it make at the time, and subsequently?
· Was media proliferation necessarily a good thing–did it lead to pluralism and genuine freedom?