MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA NEWS AND NEW MEDIA IN CENTRAL AFRICA2
News and New Media in Central Africa.Challenges and Opportunities
Te Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda andBurundi are among the continent’s smallest states. More than just neighbors, these three countries are lockedtogether by overlapping histories and by extreme political and economic challenges.Tey all score very low on the United Nations’ human development index, with DRC and Burundi among the half-dozen poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. Tey are all recovering uncertainly fromconﬂicts that involved violence on an immense scale, devastating communities and destroying infrastructure.Teir populations are overwhelmingly rural and young.In terms of media, radio is by far the most popular source of news. Levels of state capture are high, and media quality is generally poor. Professional journalists face daunting obstacles. Te threadbare markets can hardly sustain independent outlets. Amid continuing communal and political tensions, the legacy of “hate media” isinsidious, and upholding journalism ethics is not easy when salaries are low. Ownership is non-transparent.elecoms overheads are exorbitantly high.In these conditions, new and digital media—which ﬂourish on consumers’ disposable income, strategicinvestment, and vibrant markets—have made a very slow start. Crucially, connectivity remains low. Butchange is afoot, led by the growth of mobile internet access.
1. Marie-Soleil Frère is Senior Research Associate at the National Fund for Scientiﬁc Research (Belgium) and Director of the Research Center inInformation and Communication (ReSIC) at the University of Brussels. She is the author of
Te Media and Conﬂicts in Central Africa
(LynneRienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, 2007) and
Elections and the Media in Post-Conﬂict Countries: Votes and Voices for Peace?
(Zed Books, London,2011) (hereafter Frère,
Elections and the Media in Post-Conﬂict Countries