It was only the other day that a group of BBC journalists complianed to me about the extortionate fees they had to pay to get accreditation to work in Rwanda for just 3 or 4 days. They had to cough up US$200 per person and the customary long wait,
To work as a journalist in Rwanda you need a permit from the government for which you pay $200 – about £130. First, you go to one government department to hand over the money, then you head across town to the Ministry of Information to get the letter you need if you are to work. There, as I found, you can wait quite a long time, but I spent it in the office of a man called Desire, who processes the applications and then takes them through for the minister herself to sign. link
But, at least part of this is set to change. According to a report in The New Times, the Rwandan government plans to slash fees for foreign journalists from US$1,000 to US$300 per year. The Ministry of Information announced the plans at a consultative meeting with media outlets in Kigali yesterday,
“What we think is that all these people who have been lamenting about Rwanda having no freedom of press should be able to come down here and operate from here and see for themselves what is on the ground, without having excuses of high accreditation charges and all that,” said Kabagambe. link
It was also propsed that journalists staying in Rwanda for between 3 – 6 months should pay US$200. Those working for 1 – 3 months should pay US$100, a stay of 10 days – 1 month should cost US$50 and 15 days just US$30. All journalist will need to be issued with a “high quality press card” from the High Council of the Media, valid for 3 years at a cost of Rwf 5,000.
Meanwhile, the news an awful lot grimmer for your average Rwandan media outlet or wannabe media outlet. Reporters Without Borders have their say on the new proposals,
Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the amount of money that the information ministry is proposing to demand as minimum start-up capital to launch a new newspaper, radio station or TV channel. The proposed sums have not yet been submitted to the cabinet for approval.
“Given the economic situation of Rwandan journalists, it is clear that the sums that the government plans to demand are prohibitive and will just prevent the creation of new media,” Reporters Without Borders said, urging the cabinet to reject the proposals.
“After the temporary suspension of the BBC and an independent weekly, and the imposition of jail sentences on several journalists, we condemn the government’s obvious intention of asserting complete control over the news media in the run-up to next year’s presidential election,” the press freedom organisation added. link
Photo taken by cellanr