GABORONE – With Namibia topping the African press freedom charts, Botswana’s minister for state president Kabo Morwaeng says his country’s media outlets stand to benefit and learn a lot from its neighbour.
Morwaeng used the opportunity of Monday’s gala dinner in Gaborone, hosted in honour of Namibia’s information minister Peya Mushelenga and his delegation, to highlight the importance of deepening the existing relations between the two countries to other crucial areas.
In that spirit, the importance of the media and communications space cannot be overemphasised, he said.
“There is a lot we can learn from each other, be it at a policy level or even at governance level. It is a known fact that Namibia is doing very well in terms of media freedom and overall media regulation, and I strongly believe that is one area we can learn a lot from you. I’m happy that you have chosen Botswana as the destination for your benchmarking exercise, and through this process, I hope there are one or two things that have impressed you and can also be implemented back home in Namibia,” the minister added.
Not only did Morwaeng emphasise the importance of collaboration between the two countries’ media houses, but he also touched on the growing need to harmonise communication processes and systems, and ICT infrastructure.
This is done with the hope of cutting roaming costs for the consumers of both countries.
“We are ready to work with Namibia to ensure our customers pay less when roaming. It can be done, and it is possible. I hope this visit to Botswana will not be the last of its kind, and we would also love to come over to Namibia and see where we can further collaborate,” he noted.
Mushelenga is on a three-day working visit, which also saw him touring the Botswana Mass Media Complex.
This complex houses state-owned media outlets such as Btv, the Daily News newspaper, Radio Botswana and many others, and the minister went to compare notes and familiarise himself with their modus operandi as part of his benchmarking exercise.
His equivalent, Thulagano Merafe Segokgo, praised Namibia’s media standards and regulatory framework.
“When you look at the two countries, you will see that we face the same challenges in terms of ICT infrastructure and lack of modern equipment in our newsrooms. But these are all challenges that we can overcome together, and your working visit to Botswana gives us a great opportunity. There is so much we can do together and as indicated, we would like to compare notes more with Namibia in the media space,” he observed.
Segokgo continued: “Things like the exchange of staff members’ programmes, exchange of content and sharing strategic and innovative ways of providing more access to information through the media is what we are keen to learn from you. We have also done well in some areas, and would love to share that with you as well”.
Adding his voice to the discourse, Mushelenga welcomed Botswana’s keenness, saying Namibia stands ready and willing to collaborate on all fronts.
The cooperation, he noted, will ultimately ensure that SADC and African stories are told from their vantage points.
“Although our set-ups are slightly different, especially with our State media outlets being separate government parastatals and yours here in Botswana resorting somehow under the presidency and closely integrated, I still remain strongly hopeful that we can do a lot together. In terms of content-sharing and aligning operations, there is more to be done in that area and the exchange of expertise as well. With Namibia ranked number one in Africa in terms of media freedom, Botswana can learn more from us, and we are ready to hold hands,” he continued.
Mushelenga is in Botswana along with a Namibian delegation comprising senior executives from the ministry, New Era, NBC, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia and other media stakeholders.
The tour started on Monday, and ends today.