Information minister pays courtesy call on B&FT


By Kizito CUDJOE

The Minister for Information, Fatimatu Abubakar, has paid a courtesy call on the management of Ghana’s leading business and finance newspaper, Business and Financial Times (B&FT), in Accra.

Accompanied by Deputy Minister Sylvester Tetteh, and other key Ministry officials, Abubakar met with the B&FT management team to discuss developments within the information and media space, key government interventions and other pertinent issues.

During these discussions, the minister acknowledged the paper’s significant impact while stressing the importance of maintaining high standards, given its influence on the business community and its contribution to overall economic discourse in the country.

She explained that beyond disseminating government’s information, the ministry is keen on pursuing positive reforms in the information sector – especially in light of the digital evolution that has rapidly transformed the media landscape.

This development, the minister noted, has introduced challenges that need to be addressed from both the practitioners’ and policy implementers’ perspectives.

In response to these challenges, she said, the ministry is taking steps to engage with stakeholders, identify the issues and discuss potential solutions.

Furthermore, she used the occasion to highlight some government support programmes and the ‘Draft Broadcasting bill’, which she emphasised as essential for ensuring proper regulation and development of the media industry. She noted that the bill has become necessary due to the proliferation of traditional media and challenges posed by new media platforms.

“Among the challenges, if you consider the ratio of media houses per capita in our country, it presents a significant hurdle to our viability and sustainability. Despite media houses expanding, the available advertising opportunities, audience or market share remain relatively stagnant. This imbalance poses a real challenge to our industry,” she stated.

It is given this that she said government through the Ministry of information lobbied for establishing a regional office of the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM) in the country.

“Ghana has won the bid to host the regional secretariat of IFPIM for Africa and the Middle East,” she disclosed, noting efforts to formally open the secretariat by end of June.

Meanwhile, she added that IFPIM has already commenced its mandate to support public interest media – with some media houses locally already benefitting from the fund’s financing capacity of about US$55million.

However, she lamented the apparent scepticism among some media houses regarding such interventions. She therefore urged B&FT to take advantage of the Fund.

The minister also disclosed that efforts are being made to introduce programmes aimed at improving the country’s standing in the Press Freedom rankings by Reporters Without Borders.

Additionally, she highlighted the ‘Media Capacity Enhancement Programme’ that has successfully trained 140 journalists and provided specialised training.

She further mentioned that a coordinated mechanism for the safety of journalists is operated by the National Media Commission (NMC), urging journalists to report any attacks to this platform to seek justice.

The minister’s visit follows her official assumption of office after being sworn-in.

In response to the visit by Madam Fatimatu Abubakar and her team, the Chief Executive Officer of B&FT, Dr. Godwin Acquaye, outlined challenges the print media has faced since the COVID era.

He noted that operational costs for the company have increased exponentially due to disruptions caused by the outbreak of the virus. However, he emphasised that B&FT has made significant efforts to avoid passing these additional costs on to subscribers.

Acknowledging the importance of human resource development, he stated that the paper prides itself on maintaining high standards and continues to ensure staff receive ongoing training despite efforts by other corporations to poach their talent.

Dr. Acquaye also took the opportunity to highlight various programmes periodically hosted by the paper as part of its contribution to the country’s economic development. These include the Economic Forum, the Money Summit and several others.

The B&FT management team included the Managing Editor-William Selassy Adjadogo; Head-Human Resources Department-Rhoda Mensah Ankrah; Director-Operations-Dr. Daniel Anim; and Head of Finance, Francis Dadzie.

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