Bloomberg Africa Business Media Innovator (ABMI)
Bloomberg Africa Business Media Innovator (ABMI)

Influential speakers discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the media industry and the trends that will help encourage progress during a time of immense disruption

Media, technology, business, government and community leaders from across Africa and beyond gathered online to share insights and recommendations under the theme of ‘Media in the time of rapid disruption and transition’ as part of the Bloomberg Africa Business Media Innovator (ABMI) Chats series, which took place virtually December 9-10, 2020.

Co-hosted by Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media, and Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Bloomberg News, the event comes at a time when media companies around the world are being required to face up to the disruptive impacts of the COVID-19. With traditional business models already being challenged and increasingly untenable because of new technologies and competitors, the forum offered an opportunity to re-examine, pivot and innovate.

In his opening address, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said: “The worst pandemic in living memory has cost the continent a decade of what had been impressive economic growth, including six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, with the pandemic having dire consequences of rising poverty and joblessness.” The AfDB has launched a $10 billion Crisis Response facility to provide countries with critically needed liquidity as well as the largest ever denominated social bond on the global capital market. “Africa will build back faster by harnessing and better managing its natural resources, including minerals, metals, biodiversity, blue economy, forests, resources, agriculture or gas in order to boost domestic savings,” he said, “more transparent governance must form a key component of financing Africa’s growth”.

During a panel on disinformation, Pamella Sittoni, Executive Editor of the Nation Media Group in Kenya, commented: “We have an obligation to ensure that truth prevails, and that we have responsible journalism, because all these falsehoods are actually a danger to society.” Adding to the conversation, Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, said: “We have come to understand that there is a great amount of money to be made by promoting division and hate. We have to address that reality. We have to think about the type of policies we need, the regulations that we need.”

Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media, said: “There had never been a time when it was more important for citizens and leaders across all sectors to have access to fact-based and timely journalism, providing fair and comprehensive coverage of the issues that impact our health, prosperity, democratic rights and governance. Yet there had also never been a time when this was more under threat due to misinformation, technological disruption and the challenges affecting the economic survival of that very same media.”

Speakers at this year’s forum included media owners, senior editors, investors, business leaders, government officials and community leaders from 20 countries across the continent and beyond, including: Honorable Pinky Kekana, Deputy Minister of Communications, South Africa; Honorable Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation, Togo; Almar Latour, CEO, Dow Jones and Company; Samuel Attah-Mensah, Managing Director, Omni Media Ltd; Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO, Big Cabal Media; Dr. Edith Dankwa, CEO, Business and Financial Times Limited; Tshepo Mahloele, Chairman and Founder, Lebashe Investment Group; Styli Charalambous, Publisher and CEO, Daily Maverick; Zach Seward, co-founder and CEO, Quartz; and Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists.

ABMI is a unique convening that brings together global media owners and C-Suite executives, with senior thought leaders from business, government, philanthropy, and civil society. Together, participants share best practices, emerging trends and integrated company strategies that support a thriving media sector and provide unique value to their audiences.

The latest edition of Innovator Chats follows successful ABMI gatherings in Senegal, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. The annual event is a component of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA), a pan-African program launched by Michael R. Bloomberg in 2014.

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