On September 9, 2011, then Vice-President (and now President) John Mahama announced government’s plans to set up a Media Development Fund (MDF). The President made the announcement while addressing the 16th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) awards as the guest of honour.
Following the announcement, the then Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, in his presentation of the 2012 budget to parliament, announced that Gh¢1million has been allocated to the Fund .
Subsequently, in March 2012, Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, then a Deputy Minister of Information, announced that the Gh¢1million MDF was ready and would be operational in the second quarter of 2012.
However, in his State of the Nation on February 21, 2013, President Mahama said: “The newly established Media Development Fund aimed at improving capacity within the media will be operationalised this year.” It was evident from the president’s statement that the MDF was not operationalised in 2012.
Eight months after President Mahama’s promise through his State of the Nation address and two months to the end of 2013, there is no evidence of the operationalisation of the Fund.
As a media development advocacy organisation, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) recognises the value of the MDF and appreciates the significant contribution it can make to the development of the Ghanaian media if it is judiciously applied.
For example, low-interest loans from the Gh¢1million can help transform the fortunes and viability of dozens of financially and logistically-constrained rural-based media outlets that continue to play the important role of facilitating citizens’ participation in governance and development discourses and processes.
While there are pieces of information suggesting disagreements among stakeholders on how the fund should be managed, there has been silence on the fate of the Fund and whether or not there have been any disbursements. So what exactly is preventing the operationalisation of the Fund?
Given that the money was meant to be seed money, is it the case that it has been invested in anyway?
The MFWA also calls on the Ghanaian media to take a keen interest in, track and report on issues relating to the management and utilisation of the Fund.