Following a unique and peaceful transition from dictatorship to democratic rule, The Gambia has embarked on a process of rebuilding and revitalizing state as well as civil society structures and institutional capacity to constitute and serve a society based on democratic principles, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law. One important element of this process is the development of a free, responsible and professional media sector that promotes citizens’ participation and inclusive and accountable governance.
In response to this need, International Media Support has joined hands with Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and Gambia Media Support (GAMES) to facilitate and support a process that is created and owned by Gambian stakeholders for the early reform of the media sector.
The decision to support such a process is the product of visits to the country earlier in the year, during which IMS and its partners had a chance to assess the overall situation, listen to ideas of local stakeholders, and explore avenues for supporting a potential framework to promote media development in the country during the transition period and beyond. From the President to relevant ministries and the Gambia Press Union, as well as among leading media outlets, editors and journalists, there was broad support for the idea of launching a locally owned and locally driven comprehensive media sector reform process, including legal reform and capacity-development of media institutions.
The joint initiative is focusing on facilitation and capacity support aimed at strengthening the capability of local stakeholders to actively pursue the reform process. The first step has been the establishment of an expert group, which will consult with relevant actors and produce a comprehensive strategic framework that will guide the entire media reform process in The Gambia. Its first three-day workshop was kicked off in Banjul on 5 June.