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D+C Vol.42.2015:1 29 Alexander Matschke is a freelance journalist and researcher at DW Akademie. [email protected] capacity development and broad-based participation: people’s ability to make their voices heard and exercise their rights of par- ticipation, for instance in social networks, through community media or civil-society organisations. Petra Berner of DW Akademie reckons it is es- sential to take an integrated approach. The primary aim is to involve local partners in projects. She ar- gues that the experiences, skills and priorities that mark developing countries must be taken into ac- count more systematically. In her eyes, a variety of methods should be used moreover. Alexander Görsdorf of the BMZ believes that de- velopment agencies should act in support of disad- vantaged population groups: “Accordingly, the BMZ is focussing, for instance, on women and girls in rural areas, youths on urban fringes or ethnic minorities.” New digital media Development agencies that are active in media mat- ters are not simply working on new strategies how- ever. They must deal with the fact that digital tech- nology is transforming the media world. Computers, smartphones and the internet are allowing young knowledge societies to bud in Africa and Asia. The Kenyan capital Nairobi, for example, has a lively scene of digital innovators. Thanks to its ad- vantageous geographical location, Kenya got access to major submarine fibre-optic cables earlier than other African countries and drafted an initial IT strategy as early as 2006. Today, Kenya is a world leader in terms of mobile payment services such as M-Pesa. “Digital technology opens up possibilities for us in all areas,” says Eric Chinje. He heads the organisation African Media Initiative in Nairobi, which strives to improve the quality of African media. High on Chinje’s list of priorities is networking the different ac- tors. He organises conferences on media development that convene media professionals and representatives of regional media associations, scholars, civil-society activists and staff of international development agen- cies. “Every decision that is taken needs to be based on reliable information,” he says. “The media contrib- ute to civic empowerment and improve the quality of societal decisions – for instance, on whether a road or a school is built.” Digital media make it easier for civil-society groups to operate and communicate. The range of in- teractive audio-visual formats also makes it possible to reach people who can barely read or write. Text messages, on the other hand, enable small farmers in rural parts of Africa to check market prices and assess their market prospects. Journalists in danger can use text messages to call for help. In any case, the digitisa- tion of the media requires new training concepts. In- novative curricula are required both for practical pro- fessional training and for academic education. Petra Berner of DW Akademie points out yet an- other crucial requirement for the development of sus- tainable media services: financial viability is needed to make media outlets truly independent. According- ly, solid business models and strong financing sys- tems are indispensable. At the Summer Camp Media Literacy in Jaba, Alaa Ahmad, a 14-year old student, has learned to ask rel- evant questions. She now appreciates competent me- dia work: “I have become more confident. I find it en- couraging when everybody at school reads and hears what I write and say.” Links: DW Akademie: Center for Media Assistance (CIMA): BBC Media Action: International Media Support: Freedom House: African Media Initiative: Mysorekar Journalists in Bor, South Sudan.