SA to benefit from Michael Bloomberg’s cash boost for financial journalism

2014-02-03 16:14

Financial journalism in three African countries, including South Africa, will receive a $10 million (R111 million) injection thanks to former New York mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg is the founder of Bloomberg LP – a financial data and news wire service – and is the 10th-richest man in the US.

While he was mayor of New York, crime levels plunged to a historic low.

Bloomberg announced today, among good company such as Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus and billionaire Patrice Motsepe, that he was ploughing money into financial media capacity in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

“Reliable data and financial analysis bring transparency to markets and promote sound economic development – and they can help keep Africa growing and creating opportunity,” said Bloomberg.

“The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa will foster collaboration, support professional growth and nurture the leaders who are contributing to the continent’s very bright future.”

Bloomberg said he had met President Jacob Zuma and African business leaders on his trip here and sensed a lot of optimism among Africans.

“This [Africa] is a great place to make an investment and opportunities here dwarf opportunities found in developed countries,” he said.

Bloomberg said getting out the right information about Africa to potential investors was important in attracting investment to the continent.

Bloomberg will partner with the faculty from the University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications and Strathmore Business School in Kenya, the University of Lagos’ Department of Mass Communications and the Pan Atlantic University’s Lagos Business School in Nigeria, the Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies and the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science in South Africa.

The initiative will develop and deliver educational programmes focused on business, economics, public policy, finance and journalism to enhance the skills and knowledge of media professionals.

Practically, this will include scholarships, fellowship programmes and developing new technologies for media professionals and civic leaders.

Dr Ralph Akinfeleye, professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, said: “By providing rigorous training from a best-in-class faculty, media professionals and other stakeholders from the south, east and west African countries, the initiative will positively impact transparency, accountability, good governance and sustainable economic growth on the continent.”

Trevor Ncube, publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent and the Mail & Guardian, said too many governments in Africa still viewed the media as an enemy of the state and restricted expression and freedom of speech.

He said more resources were needed in media to ensure that those in power did not abuse it and to hold them accountable.

The $10 million will be used over a period of three years and Bloomberg said he also hoped to receive support from the private sector.

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