Gates Foundation partners with African media group AllAfrica.com

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has entered into another media partnership, this time with AllAfrica.com, to enhance international and African coverage of global health and development issues.

AllAfrica.com describes itself as the “largest electronic distributor of African news and information worldwide,” a multi-media content service provider, systems technology developer and a mega-aggregator of news publishing an average of 1,000 stories a day.

AllAfrica.com is headquartered in the island nation Mauritius (one of Africa’s wealthier countries, and last known home of the dodo). It had this to say about getting a $2.3 million from the Gates Foundation to expand its development coverage:

“These stories will reach policy makers, opinion leaders, NGOs and a wide public across Africa and around the world,” said AllAfrica Global Media co-founder and chair, Amadou Mahtar Ba, who also heads the African Media Initiative (also partly funded by Gates). “Besides being a voice for Africa, the project will support our media partners by providing content,  and by offering opportunities for journalists to expand their experiences and their capabilities.”

AllAfrica says the Gates grant will allow its reporters based out of offices in South Africa, Senegal, Liberia and Kenya to “roam the continent in search of mistakes to avoid and examples to emulate.”

In addition to producing more development stories, AllAfrica said it intends to also expand the use of multimedia materials, blogs, photo essays and other means intended to creating dialogue on Africa’s efforts to fight poverty, reduce inequities and improve health.

“At a time when funds for international development must compete with other pressing priorities,” said AllAfrica’s head of operations and west Africa director Rougui Diaw, “it is vital to showcase the many successes, without ignoring continuing challenges.”

AllAfrica.com, the online successor to the non-profit Africa News Service, has a long history of collaboration with other news organizations such as the BBC, NPR and many other major news organizations. The online news site said the Gates grant will allow it to also strive to increase such collaboration as an online news organization, for big media as well as for individual journalists.

Note: There are concerns about these media partnerships — given that the Gates Foundation is also one of the biggest stories in global health and development. I’ve written about these concerns before and intend to follow up on this issue soon. Any thoughts or questions you have, let me know.

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About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.

  • Gates Keepers

    Here they go again. The Gates Foundation funds AllAfrica dot com. Now this African media giant will not criticise the Foundation. Is there an African organisation that can take on an ‘AllAfricaWatch’ watchdog role by counting AllAfrica stories praising the Gates Foundation and the stories criticising it?

    http://gateskeepers.civiblog.org/blog/_archives/2010/12/6/4697271.html

  • Philippeboucher2

    I wonder is how exactly All.Africa is going to use the money. Reading the press releases does not provide any precise explanation: are they going to commission journalists to wrote pieces, make investigations? Are they planning to be transparent about how the money is used? One of the main problem I faced when dealing with the IDRC scandal is that it was difficult to know how the money had been used despite the existence of the Access to Information Act. of course the Gates foundation could easily remedy this by requiring its grantees to be transparent about their use the grants: they don’t seem to go that way. In the case of IDRC, the only information now available on the Gates Foundation site is the short press release about the termination of the grant.
    Maybe you could ask directly AllAfrica how they intend to proceed and also ask the Gates Foundation about more transparency? maybe look toward how the British Government now makes available how the money is spent?

    • Good questions Philippe,

      The short answer to a few of them is that All.Africa probably has not yet decided exactly how to use the money but they do say they intend to expand coverage with it. The Gates Foundation leaves it up to the media organizations themselves to decide how “transparent” they want to be. And I would have to say that I think the Gates Foundation is more transparent than most philanthropies, which some could say is pretty faint praise (given that most philanthropies are opaque). But I do get a sense that the new crop of Gates media folks, and the new regime there, want to be more open and engage the public in dialogue. We’ll see.

      Thanks for your interest!

  • Philippeboucher2

    What about the support provided to Humanosphere by Goldman Sachs? as mentioned in the ad on the side of the blog? I have been particularly disgusted by the Goldman Sachs campaign obviously trying to make people forget how big their bonuses are going to be. It would be interesting to know how much they gave…

    • Hi Philippe,
      I have no control over the ads on the site, and so far as I know Goldman Sachs hasn’t given me any financial support. Whatever pittance they pay for an ad goes to KPLU in general and wouldn’t have any impact on how little I’m paid. And I haven’t forgotten their bonuses ….