In a significant stride towards promoting freedom of the press and ensuring a stronger media landscape, the newly formed East African Press Council (EAPC) was officially launched on October 19 in Tanzania.
The EAPC, with esteemed representatives from various East African nations, will serve as an umbrella body to bring together media regulatory authorities within the region.
The main objective of the EAPC, whose membership consists of media and press councils from the EAC Partner States, is to promote and protect free, independent, professional, and accountable media in EAC, according to a press release issued by the EAC Secretariat.
Speaking at the event, the EAPC Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Media Council of Kenya, David Omwoyo, said that making media standards universal across the entire EAC region is critical if the media industry is to grow at a uniform pace and play its watchdog role effectively.
Omwoyo pointed out that it was challenging to have different media regulatory standards in the Partner States across the region.
Members who gathered for this momentous occasion vowed to uphold journalistic integrity and protect the essential role that the media plays in society.
The EAPC Treasurer and Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Media Commission, Emmanuel Mugisha, said Rwanda was using media literacy to ensure that youth and members of the public are adequately prepared to use the media space, especially social media, responsibly.
Again, he remarked, Rwanda was encouraging her media to promote Pan-African stories to correct the negative image of Africa by Western media over the years.
“As Africans, we need to tell our own story—stories that are in our own favour and portray a just image of ourselves,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat, Irene Isaka, prior to the launch event, EAC General Peter Mathuki expressed hope that the launch of EAPC would lead to a more free, independent, and vibrant media that would, in turn, promote the principles of democracy, social justice and respect for human rights in the regional bloc.
Mathuki indicated that independent and professional journalism is the cornerstone of any democratic dispensation, without which freedom of expression is inhibited, and so are the basic rights of members of society. He held that empowerment of media on matters of regional integration was key.
The EAPC, a collaborative effort between Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, aims to safeguard unbiased reporting, ethical journalism, and the principles of transparency. Through this regional alliance, media practitioners will now have a unified platform to address grievances, receive training, and engage in dialogue to advance their profession.
This groundbreaking approach eliminates financial barriers and ensures accessibility to all media professionals across the region, regardless of their economic circumstances.