Home Business & TechTechnology Five Local Journalists Awarded in Rwanda Journalist AI Reporting Challenge

Five Local Journalists Awarded in Rwanda Journalist AI Reporting Challenge

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
3:54 pm

The top three winners with organizers, sponsors

Five local journalists have been awarded in the first-ever Journalist Challenge for Reporting on Artificial Intelligence (AI) which targeted journalists and content creators. 

Patrick Nzabonimpa and Heritier respectively from the New Times Publications won the first and second award respectively. They took home Rwf 1.5 million and Rwf 1 million respectively.

Francine Andrew Saro emerged the second runner-up, taking home Rwf 500,000. Jean Paul Niyonshuti and Leontine Ineza came on fourth and fifth position and were awarded with Rwf 300,000 each.

The remaining nine candidates, our of the 12 contestants were given an equivalent of $ 100 in recognition for their efforts.

Patrick Nzabonimpa

Nzabonimpa’s award-winning story discusses the potential of AI-powered chatbots in enhancing access to mental health care and combating stigma.

It highlights studies showing that the chatbots can improve engagement and adherence compared to traditional methods and explores the ethical considerations, risks, as well as the importance of balancing AI chatbots with human therapists to provide holistic mental healthcare services.

“The idea came from a discussion with a friend who told me the way, with chatbot, they could discuss a mental problem and find a way out. That inspired me a lot,” he said with excitement after receiving the award.

Targeting local media and content creators, the initiative was organised by the German Development Agency (GIZ) in partnership with Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation (MINICT) and the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa.

The AI Journalist Challenge was organized to nurture and encourage high-quality coverage of AI and its related implications on society in Rwanda. The Challenge followed a four-day workshop held earlier in February this year, where 14 local journalists were trained and upskilled on the foundations, ethics and best practices of AI and tech reporting.

Francine Andrew Saro

Since Rwanda’s adoption of its National AI Policy in 2022 as one of the first African countries to do so, the country has embarked on an ambitious journey to leverage AI as one of the country’s key enablers of sustainable development and establish Rwanda as an AI forerunner in the region. This requires first upskilling Rwandans and raising their awareness of the National AI Policy.

In this context, GIZ has been supporting the national awareness-raising campaign led by Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT. High on the agenda is to raise awareness on Rwanda’s AI policy, the benefits and risks of AI, as well as its impacts on people’s lives. This will lay the foundations for a strong knowledge society in Rwanda that is informed and engaged with the government’s implementation of the country’s AI plans, which ultimately aims to improve the lives of all Rwandans.

Kellia Mugenzi, GIZ Advisor in Artificial Intelligence said that their aim is capacity building, and for this particular training, the intention was to empower the media which reaches a wide range of audience.

“We reached our objective. The journalists we trained now have fair understanding on the importance of AI and how it would help the community succeed in their everyday’s tasks. They also understand potential threats that carries AI,” she said.

A GIZ representative speaking at the event

Journalists and the media have always played a vital role in educating and informing citizens. It is for this reason that the government and its development partners are actively engaging and promoting quality AI journalism.

The AI Journalist Challenge recognizes outstanding in-depth journalism work on AI development and its impact on Rwanda’s socio-economic development. As part of the Challenge, journalists were invited to submit entries on a variety of AI topics relevant to Rwandan society to be published and disseminated across a variety media channels, such as news media, community radios and social media.

Journalists were guided by UNESCO’s Handbook on Reporting on Artificial Intelligence, published under the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community around media development, and seeks to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic press.

Albert Mutesa, Secretary General of National Commission for UNESCO said that to make awareness of AI, they found it important to start with the media, because it has a merit of reaching people easily.

Albert Mutesa

An expert jury comprising experienced professionals was responsible for evaluating the submitted stories. Entries were evaluated on accuracy, depth, clarity, and potential to raise awareness about AI in Rwanda and its implementation.

The awarding ceremony took place on March 26, 2024 at Sainte Famille Hotel-Kigali from 2PM.

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