Strategic Roundtable: media in the light of current issues in the Sahel

Dakar, Senegal, Novotel, Thursday 12 and Friday 13, June 2014

"How to help media address key challenges arising in the Sahel: Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso?

Organized by the Panos Institute of West Africa (PIWA) & the International Media Support (IMS)

The context of the holding of this roundtable

During the last decade, PIWA and IMS followed the main developments in the Western Sahel and how the media are influenced and / or contribute to some national and regional dynamics. The region is faced with several challenges: poverty, food insecurity and crisis (exacerbated by the effects of climate change and environmental degradation), the high unemployment rate (in societies mainly composed of young people), to which must be added bad governance and a high level of corruption.

In recent years, societal vulnerability and developmental problems were further exacerbated by the rise of terrorism and extremism. The presence of rebel and armed groups crisscrossing the Sahel are at the origin of armed conflicts, leading to a significant deterioration in security, human rights and democratization.

The media in Western Sahel (Burkina Faso, particularly in Mali and Niger) have been affected by the crisis which, combined with structural and long-term problems within the media sector, have reduced their ability to play their role as observer in order to ensure good governance or to help resolve conflicts and fight against extremism.

The PIWA / IMS partnership

In 2012, IMS and PIWA formalized a partnership and worked closely together, for example in Mali in 2013 to contribute to the pacification and intercommunity dialogue with regard to the on-going conflict. Both organizations have a good understanding of the situation of the media sector in the respective countries. Early 2014, IMS and PIWA initiated a thorough analysis of the media sector in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso (forming the Western Sahel) in order to document the challenges and identify the needs of the media in each country and at region level. Country analyses were performed and a summary of conclusions and recommendations was developed at the regional level. These findings will be presented and discussed with the participants in the roundtable.

The Roundtable has set itself targets to discuss the findings of country studies: given that more and ever-increasing risks are threatening society, human rights and democracy in the Sahel, what is the role of the media? To what extent do they contribute to increase these risks? And, or, conversely, how can they help mitigate them?

It will attempt to identify what support may be provided for the media so that they can mitigate these risks, as well as assets that can be drawn from the regional dimension (collaborations, exchange of experiences, etc.).

After these moments of strategic thinking, intervention proposals in order to strengthen the media's ability to confront and respond to current risks in the region, as well as constructive and open discussions among participants with the view to supply a coherent project to support the media in the Sahel will have been made.

This workshop will serve as a starting point for the development of a project which will be submitted for fundraising.

The Participants

The Participants in the round table are stakeholders and experts working in the field of development and media from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. It consists of, but not limited to, the representatives of newspapers and selected international donors with interests in the media sector across the Sahel and development related issues in the Sahel region.

Presentation of the institutions

The Panos Institute of West Africa (PIWA)

Established in June 2000, PIWA is an African regional independent non-governmental organization which mission is to democratize communication, and to strengthen public spaces for African open societies, where citizens can have informed opinions, and their voices amplified and heard.

From its headquarters in Dakar, PIWA conducts action within 15 ECOWAS countries and Mauritania. PIWA supports:

- Public debate and policy dialogue on key development issues in Africa;

- The constitution of knowledge on the development of media and issues of communication for development in Africa;

- Production and dissemination of quality media content generated by Africans themselves;

- Strengthening the capacity of stakeholders of social change to inform, communicate and be heard;

PIWA federates catalyses and innovates at the regional level, creates and promotes initiatives for democratic communication. The PIWA is a founding member of the "Panos Network" which includes seven other independent institutes: Panos Eastern Africa, Panos Southern Africa, Panos Asia, Panos Caribbean, Panos Canada, Panos London and Panos Paris

The International Media Support (IMS)

The International Media Support (IMS) is a non-profit organization that supports local media in countries affected by armed conflict, human insecurity and political transition. In more than 50 countries worldwide, IMS helps to strengthen professional journalism and ensures that media can operate in difficult circumstances. IMS works closely with the local media and media support organizations both at national and international levels in order to identify and respond quickly and with flexibility to the needs of local media. We strive to treat all aspects of the media industry, both in terms of media laws, vocational training and the protection of journalists. If you want to know more: