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Rwanda Media Barometer Shows Improvement In Media Freedom

by Daniel Sabiiti
9:50 pm

Usta Kayitesi, CEO RGB during the launch of Rwanda Media Barometer 2021

Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) has launched the 4th edition of Rwanda Media Barometer (RMB) which indicates a steady growth and a positive improvement of media development status.

The RMB is a biannual publication established with the objective of setting up a comprehensive framework for regular monitoring and assessment of the state of media in Rwanda.

It is built on different pillars (5 indictors, 19 sub-indicators, and 66 variables) that measures areas related to media policy and regulatory frameworks, media and governance, professional capacity and media development, and access to information.

The study helps to identify gaps that need to be filled to promote a professional and sustainable media industry in Rwanda.

The RMB 2021 is the fourth edition following the last edition published in 2018.

This year’s edition showed a steady and positive improvement of media development status stands at 80.6% from 60.7% in 2013, 69.6% in 2016, and 72.4% in 2018.

Indicators showed the media legal and policy framework at an overall score of 91%, media freedom of expression at 86.4%, media plurality and diversity had an overall score of 87.3%, media as a platform for strengthening Governance and Democracy” had an overall score of 85%, while development and professional capacity scored 62.4%.

The legal and policy framework indicator on freedom of the press in Rwanda showed that this area scored 93.7%.

RGB Chief Executive Officer, Usta Kayitesi said that this year’s barometer is built on  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Media Development Indicators that have been localized and contextualized to take into account the local context and realities.

“We have taken the choice to remain accountable to ourselves and the Rwanda Media Barometer 2021 attests to that as it is a tool for self-assessment,” Kayitesi said.

Rwanda Media Barometer 2021. Launch event

The event was attended by over 100 participants, including representatives of government institutions, the private sector, civil society, research and higher learning institutions as well as media and development partners.

The launch of RMB 2021 coincided with the celebration of Africa Day of Information (ADI), under the theme: Media Professionalism and Information Access in the Digital Era: Literacy, data protection and information accessibility.

Findings of the Barometer 2021 regarding media consumption habits and preferences indicated that Radio is the most accessible and also preferred media channel.

The barometer showed that in the world of digital information that is largely driven by social media, radio is the most preferred and trusted media source of information in Rwanda with 94.3% score, followed by Television (50.5%), and social media (41.6%).

Online platforms stood at 31.4% while print media that is almost extinct due to COVID-19 effects stood at 2.6%.

In terms of Social media popularity, WhatsApp leads with 87.1% followed by YouTube (68.3%) and Facebook (64.9%).

Instagram stands at 26.6% and Twitter at 21.8%.

The media fraternity insisted that there is still lack of access to information despite the fact the ombudsman’s annual report presented last month shows that it only received two cases of complaints (from media practitioners)  claiming being denied official information

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Rwanda, Maxwell Gomera said the barometer is an excellent indicator of where Rwanda media is and where it should be., thus together with partners, the UN is ready to work with the government to strengthen media space in Rwanda.

However, he stated that the inclusion of persons with disabilities continues to be a concern.

“We would like to work with media to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as to shine the light on their plight,” Gomera said at the launch of the 4th edition.


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