On September 19, dignitaries, journalists and guests gathered to launch USAID/Democratic Republic of the Congo’s new Media Sector Development Activity (MSDA). Among those in attendance were DRC’s newly appointed Minister of Communication and Media, Jolino Makelele, the Minister of Gender, Children and Family, Béatrice Lomeya Atilite, the United States Ambassador to DRC, Michael Hammer, and USAID’s Mission Director in DRC, Paul Sabatine.
Ambassador Hammer’s opening remarks highlighted the importance of media freedom and building the capacity of youth. He stressed the need for the DRC to improve its rank on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, which is currently 154 out of 180 countries. Ambassador Hammer drove home the urgency of this project by stating, “We know that freedom of the press is important…because a government must be transparent and accountable, and the press plays the role of investigating and reporting on whether the government is doing a good job.”
“We know that press freedom is critical for a democracy.” - Michael Hammer, US Ambassador to the DRC
Following the Ambassador, USAID Mission Director Sabatine said that it was, “… essential that citizens receive the information they need to enable them to fully participate in civic and political life, to make informed decisions, to control the actions of elected representatives and institutions and to hold them accountable. All those are only possible through free, independent and pluralistic media that can find information, analyze it, cross-check it and freely present it to citizens.”
MSDA focuses on promoting a more open and vibrant media sector that contributes to more responsive and transparent institutions. MSDA implementation is led by SCS Global Consortium Partner Internews with support from FHI 360.