London, 24th February 2016 – Today, at the Social Media Week in Lagos, BBC World News launched the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award to seek out a future star of African journalism.
For the second year running, the award honours presenter Komla Dumor, who passed away two years ago, aged 41. Komla was an exceptional Ghanaian broadcaster who in his short life made an extraordinary impact – in Ghana, in Africa and across the world – on Joy FM and at the BBC. Through his tenacious journalism and compelling storytelling, he worked tirelessly to bring a more sophisticated African narrative to the world. The BBC is committed to continuing Komla’s legacy.
Following the success of last year’s award, and winner Nancy Kacungira of KTN in Kenya spending three months gaining skills and experience at the BBC headquarters in New Broadcasting House in London, BBC World News continues to invest in finding young talent from Africa to tell African stories to global audiences.
Nancy Kacungira said: “It felt really good to be able to tell a story from Africa on such a big platform – my stories were seen and heard on BBC TV, Radio and Online. My own values on reporting about the continent – nuance, balance, and authenticity – were a good match for the BBC’s commitment to getting the story right from wherever they report from in the world. I felt supported as a journalist from the continent, to tell the story I wanted to tell in the way that I felt it should be told.”
Now open for applications, entrants have until 23.59GMT on 23rd March 2016 to submit. The winner will be awarded the opportunity to gain skills and experience, working with teams across BBC News during a three month placement in London. For more information on how to apply, entry criteria, and terms and conditions visit bbc.com/komladumor and use hashtag #BBCKomlaAward.
Francesca Unsworth, Director, BBC World Service Group and Deputy Director of News and Current Affairs said: “Komla was a much-loved and respected journalist among his colleagues at the BBC and with aspiring journalists across the world. His storytelling was compelling and his enthusiasm infectious, making him one of our leading journalists – and hugely popular with our global audiences. The BBC is committed to continuing Komla’s legacy of reporting on this continent by launching his award for the second year. We are searching for a rising star who displays exceptional talent, someone who embodies the spirit of Komla Dumor.”
Also in Lagos during Social Media week, BBC World Service will host its flagship current affairs discussion programme, the Africa Debate, looking at free speech on social media. The debate will ask if social media should be regulated and highlights an issue that is of concern to many Africans who have used social media to monitor public officials.
Recently, Nigerians have been reacting angrily to a draft bill proposed in the country’s Senate which aims to punish anyone who “propagates false information”. The bill’s opponents say it will censor free speech on social media where public corruption is exposed. Its supporters say the bill is to check the publication of false stories which they claim was becoming rampant in the country. Last September the Cybercrimes law came into force in Tanzania making misinformation and sharing of naked pictures on the internet a crime.
The situation is no different in countries such as Kenya, Zambia, Egypt and Ethiopia, where journalists, bloggers, activists and individuals have been arrested and arraigned in court for publishing or sharing online content that authorities say threaten national security – claims that are rejected by the accused.
Meanwhile, access to social media via smartphones continues to grow across the continent, giving millions the ability to read, post and share content of their choosing online.
This edition of BBC Africa Debate will be recorded today, with a distinguished panel of experts and an invited audience in Lagos, Nigeria and will be broadcast by BBC World Service at 1900GMT on Thurs 25 February.