Mustafa Duhulow, Minister of Information today addressed the Somali Media Support Group (SMSG) meeting held in Mogadishu for the first time. The Minister welcomed and thanked members of the SMSG for holding their meeting in Mogadishu. He stated in his speech the importance and need to support the Somali media development, enabling them play a progressive role in good governance and democratic process.
SMSG consist of members from international civil society organisations, UN agencies, Donor countries including the European Union and USA. The group aim to support developing Somali media and regularly consult on monthly basis in Nairobi. Today’s meeting in Mogadishu was significant progress showing increased collaboration between group and the Somali media in general. Co-chaired by Mr Aleem Saddique, Spokesperson of UN Secretary-General Special Representative Nicolas Kay and Mr Jaco du Toit from UNESCO. The privet media was represented by Mohamed Ibrahim, Secretary General of NUSOJ, Ismail from SIMHA and Farhio Khaire from Somali Women Journalists.
The Minister of Information addressing participants of the SMSG meeting first sent out condolences to the families and Somali media for the killing of Yusuf Ahmed Abukar (Keynaan), who was a brilliant and intelligent journalist who had a bright future. He said “This is one of the huge challenges that we have as extremists deliberately target journalists in order to silence media. We need to unite efforts to stop impunity and to redouble our support toward Somali Media Development”. He also said “Somali Federal Government hugely welcomes the SMSG’s support to Somali media. As you are all aware, Somalis are aural society and media plays a pivotal role in the progress of our society. In particular since Somalia is now moving away from chaos and lawlessness to an era of peace and stability, it is essential that media plays a significant role to the peace-building and state-building of the nation.”
The Minister provided updates on the Ministry of Information progress, the challenges faced and the way forward. The Minister said “ We have made huge progress in the last 5 months as we devised Federal Government Comprehensive Strategic Communications, established Media & Strategic Communications Coordination Group in order to improve internal & external communications, developed Crisis Communications Strategy, re-established Somali National News Agency SONNA, implemented weekly press briefing to highlight the progress of the government, re-launched Somali Pop Idol, introduced Somali Cultural Festival, finalised the draft Media Law, improved relationship with private media, and many more within a short period of time.”
Despite of all the existing challenges the Government is determined and committed to continue in bringing new initiatives and making progress at every level. The Minister said
“We have great ambitions but we need the support of our friends and allies to help us to make long lasting and meaningful growth”. He stressed that the government is planning to take more strategic steps on press freedom and said “We are planning as part of the Media Law establishing an independent Media Council that will regulate the media in the country and for the first time establishing Somali Public Service Broadcast (PSB). We have also devised media plans for the review of the provisional constitution, as we need to prepare public consultation, public engagement, debates and discussion in order to prepare public ahead of the referendum stage.
At the end of the meeting, the minister and the chair of the SMSG hold press conference raising again the concerns of the killing of journalists in Somalia and the urgent need to enhance the capacity of Somali journalists in order to improve professionalism in Somali media.