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Group photo of workshop participants. Photo via International Federation of Journalists

 

The Head of the Media Sector Coordination Monitoring Department of the Rwanda Governance Board, Jean Bosco Rushingabigwi, told young journalists on Friday, 10 December, in Kigali, that if they do not think about the public interest when writing their stories, then they are not doing journalism”.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two- day Youth Working Group Workshop on Digital Organising, Trade Union Reform and Youth Recruitment, organised by the Rwanda Journalists Association (ARJ) in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) under the Union to Union (UTU) Project 2021,   Rushingabigwi emphasised that journalists should always have their readers, listeners and viewers in mind as they execute their noble duties.

“We have observed that there are online journalists who have shifted the public interest to their own interest by only focusing on how much followers and “likes” they can gather, which has really affected their work.  The biggest challenge that we have today is to differentiate between the journalist, blogger and social media influencer, we are simply navigating between media freedom and the freedom of expression”.  Rushingabigwi called on journalists working online to be more ethical in order to make a difference. “As journalists we must be able to evaluate ourselves by asking ourselves how well we are serving the public”.

The President of ARJ, Aldo Havugimana, expressed that one of the greatest challenges in Rwandan journalism today is the deliberate disregard of journalism ethics. “A good number of young journalists working online show no consideration to the ethics of the profession and simply publish whatever they want.   He lamented that most young journalists especially those who work online are not members of ARJ because of some erroneous beliefs that they have. Such journalists, he said, need some help and ARJ is willing to dialogue with them. Aldo Havugimana also noted that a good number of young journalists do not work for sustainable media houses which to some extent explains the growing number of freelance journalists.

The Director of the IFJ Africa office Pa Louis Thomasi, said that young journalists working online are mostly exploited because they multitask and work for very long hours without proper remuneration. He also highlighted that a very significant number of journalists working in Rwanda and most countries in the Eastern African region work without any form of contracts  and are consistently at the mercy of their employers. He called on the ARJ to revisit its recruitment strategies by conducting a research on the needs and aspirations of young journalists.  “We must be able to convince the majority of the young journalists coming into the profession that unions and trade unionism in general are still relevant and does not damage their career prospects”.

The two- day workshop brought together 20 young journalists from the print media, radio, television and online media some of whom are freelance journalists. The workshop dilated on numerous themes, including freedom of expression and labour rights, Online Security and legislations governing the use of the internet in Rwanda; how technology is transforming Media Business Model;   Gender equality and Sexual Harassment and Bullying of female journalists online; and Designing Effective Recruitment and Campaign Strategies for increased youth membership. - International Federation of Journalists

 

There is nothing glamorous about being a YouTuber in Rwanda, says John Williams Ntwali, whose channel Pax TV is a year old. The pay is poor, the threats frequent and the risk of prison all too real.

Ntwali has been arrested multiple times during his two-decade career as a journalist, but now fears that even YouTube, which had established itself as a rare outlet for critical reporting in Rwanda, is losing ground to an authoritarian government.

"We are leaning towards the closure of YouTube channels, not by shutting down YouTube or the internet but by imprisoning those who work on YouTube," he told AFP in an interview.

YouTubers who discuss beauty, sports or shopping have little to worry about, but those who focus on politics and current affairs are in an increasingly precarious position, he said.

"It's getting more restrictive."

Unlike many YouTubers around the world, the 40-something is careful not to share any personal information about himself or his family, for safety reasons.

In fact, he rarely appears on Pax TV, which has secured 1.5 million views and is nicknamed the "voice of the voiceless" for its interviews with critics and dissenters in the national Kinyarwanda language.

The channel, which has 15,000 subscribers, features interviews with figures such as Adeline Rwigara, who accused the government of harassment. She previously accused the authorities of killing her husband Assinapol Rwigara, a high-profile industrialist who fell out with the ruling party and died in a car accident.

The channel also interviewed the Belgian lawyer of Paul Rusesabagina, the "Hotel Rwanda" hero turned outspoken government critic who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in September in what global rights groups branded an unfair trial.

"We want to talk to every citizen, we do investigative journalism, but we do it to advocate for human rights," Ntwali said.

Several of his former compatriots are in jail while other YouTubers are increasingly afraid to broach controversial subjects.

Still, Ntwali is unbowed.

"It's passion. It's dedication. We live hoping that one day it can improve."

'Taken by Surprise'

President Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist for nearly three decades, ever since his rebel army stopped the 1994 genocide which left some 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsi dead.

While Kagame has won praise for bringing stability and economic growth to Rwanda, he has also come under fire for cracking down on political freedoms.

The country is ranked 156th out of 180 countries for press freedom by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

As media censorship has grown, forcing independent outlets to shut down, YouTube has stepped into the vacuum, its popularity receiving an unexpected boost when COVID-19 lockdowns left Kigali residents housebound.

Once a video is uploaded, it has a long life, often shared several times before anyone attempts to have it removed.

Furthermore, Kagame's government cannot go after the Google-owned platform without risking the wrath of the Silicon Valley giant, which could block access to its other services in Rwanda, dealing a blow to the economy, Ntwali said.

'Candidate for prison'

Nevertheless, in recent weeks, speculation has mounted that the government is in discussions with Google about shutting down a number of YouTube channels.

Neither Google nor the Rwandan authorities responded to AFP's requests for comment on the reports, which follow a string of arrests of prominent YouTubers in recent months.

In November, star YouTuber Dieudonne Niyonsenga, better known by his online persona Cyuma ("Iron"), was sentenced to seven years in jail after being found guilty of forgery and impersonation.

Weeks earlier, Yvonne Idamange, a mother of four with a large online following, was jailed for 15 years for inciting violence online.

Aimable Karasira, a university lecturer with a YouTube channel, was arrested in June and charged with genocide denial, a serious crime in Rwanda.

The Rwanda Investigation Bureau in October urged citizens to be wary of social media commentators seeking to "undermine national security," warning of arrests.

According to Human Rights Watch, "Rwandan law allows for overly broad and vague limitations on free speech" which pave the way for the "abusive prosecution" of YouTubers and other government critics.

In just a year, many of Rwanda's top YouTubers have been silenced, and while Ntwali says he is careful not to publish anything that is "in contradiction with the law", he knows his days online are numbered.

"It is inevitable," he said.

"When you are an independent journalist, in the truest sense of the term, you are a candidate for prison." - Agence France-Presse/Voice of America

Tanzanian President Samia Hassan and Egypt s Housing Minister Assem El-Gazzar inaugurates Elsewedy Industrial Complex in Tanzania. Press photo

 

Tanzanian President Samia Hassan inaugurated the first phase of Egypt’s Elsewedy Industrial Complex in Tanzania, which includes investments totalling $35 million, Elsewedy Electric said in a statement on Monday.

The president, accompanied with Egyptian and Tanzanian key officials, also laid the foundation stone of the Egyptian Industrial City (EIC) in the Kigamboni district of Dar Es Salaam.

Built on 120,100 square metres, the Elsewedy Industrial Complex comprises several manufacturing facilities specialising in cables, wires, transformers, PVCs, and metres, along with logistics centre built on a 4,800 square-metre-area, the company said.

The complex will also produce the solutions and equipment necessary for the 2025 Industrialisation Strategy of Tanzania and will create more than 500 jobs for talented youths and technical engineers in the first phase alone.

The complex includes a technical training academy to provide innovative technical education and vocational training programmes with international standards to train and provide skills to aspiring employees and feed the growing labour market in the developing nation.

Egypt’s Minister of Housing Assem El-Gazzar, Egyptian Ambassador to Cairo Mohamed Abu El-Wafa, CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, and CEO of Elsewedy Electric Ahmed El-Sewedy, along with 50 Egyptian businessmen and investors attended the inauguration ceremony.

The EIC is a 2.2 million-square-metre industrial park that aims to attract more than $400 million worth of investments from over 100 investors across the region, the company said.

Developed by Elsewedy Electric’s subsidiary, Elsewedy Industrial Development, the company is expected to accommodate labour-intensive industries. This includes chemical, engineering, and mining operations.

During the ceremony, El-Sewedy said the inauguration comes as part of the company’s mission to expand in Africa, which started 20 years ago.

“Over this time, Tanzania has remained an important priority in our strategy, which materialised in 2018,” El-Sewedy said.

He hailed Tanzania’s “favourable investment climate and its government’s support to industries,” saying this has enabled the company to use the new complex as a manufacturing and export hub at the heart of east and south Africa.

“Tanzania is suitably located, bordering eight countries, six of which are nearly or completely land-locked, which makes Tanzania well-positioned to become a regional economic and transit hub,” he added.

Egypt has been engaged in numerous developmental projects in a number of African countries, most notably the Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Power Project in Tanzania.

In August, the Egyptian consortium undertaking the project, including the Arab Contractors Company and Elsewedy Electric, began installing its first turbine.

Once it is complete, the dam will generate 2,115 mw of clean power to more than 60 million Tanzanians and control the Rufiji River’s water flow in the flood season. - Ahram Online

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