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Brain Trust Initiative To Unleash The Power Of Digital Media In Africa

Media in sub-Saharan Africa is at a crossroads. Journalism as a change agent within sub-Saharan Africa has lagged, due primarily to the lack of commercially vibrant media and editorially independent media institutions. This has weakened sub-Saharan Africa’s democratic governance processes and its socio-economic development.

Sub-Saharan Africa needs a dynamic, stable, and financially sound digital ecosystem, spanning the mediums of print, radio, and television, in order to thrive. My research into the current landscape of media on the continent and the barriers to development have led to the concept of a Brain Trust for sub-Saharan media, as described in my new paper for the Shorenstein Center at Harvard Kennedy School.

A critical mission of the Brain Trust would be to unleash the creative potential and reach of sub-Saharan Africa’s state-owned and private sector media industries and to create a streamlined and efficient digital content publishing infrastructure that would generate culturally uplifting content with which Africans and people of African descent can identify.

A priority for the Brain Trust would be to develop a sound policy framework that would enable state-owned and private sector media enterprises across Africa to transition from an entrenched analogue operational infrastructure to a converged digital ecosystem. Collaboration between the state-owned and private sector media would ensure sustainability for both approaches.

To guide the successful implementation of its vision and mission and to ensure a neutral, research-based Center, the Brain Trust would be launched in collaboration one of the world’s leading universities. The Brain Trust would undertake research and policy-focused initiatives aimed at unlocking the financial and intellectual resources needed to build a commercially viable sub-Saharan African digital ecosystem.

Significant institutional and foundation support would be required to realise this objective. The returns on this support – a more learned, prosperous, united, and democratic sub- Saharan Africa – would far exceed the investment, with the dividends extending decades into the future.

[Read the full paper here]

The Brain Trust Initiative is presented by Mr. George Twumasi, a Fall 2018 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

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