By Nawal Mohammed
Ten journalists have completed the first part of an intensive fellowship on reporting illicit financial flows that conducted by the African Centre for Media Excellence.
The fellowship is an activity of the Wealth of Nations programme that is implemented in Uganda by Thomson Reuters Foundation and ACME. The programme aims to form a strong, well-trained, independent media able to investigate and expose the financial manipulations that stop Africa from flourishing because of the burden of illicit financial flows.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Economic Development in Africa Report 2020 estimated that illicit financial flows cost African countries around $50 billion a year. This dwarfs the amount of money that the continent receives in official development assistance every year. The Wealth of Nations programme seeks to equip journalists with the knowledge and skill produce compelling and consistent reporting that helps audiences understand the nature and impact of illicit financial flows, and raises the profile of the issue in national debate.
One of the participants of the ongoing fellowship, Calvin Deox Otim of Pakwach FM, said that taking part in the programme exposed how little he knew about the subject and how he can increase the depth of his reporting.
“I have been tickled to connect the dots by paying attention to every detail,” he said.
The fellowship provided journalists with an understanding of illicit financial flows, Uganda’s taxation landscape and essential investigative tools to deliver nuanced coverage of the matter.
“Having recently moved to the business desk from features, I have struggled to understand things around taxation. This training has been timely and educative right from the first day. The trainers have really tried to explain everything in full detail. I am more than prepared to report effectively on illicit finance,” said Joan Salmon, a reporter at Daily Monitor.
Participants will receive mentoring and support to help them deliver stories on illicit financial flows. Additionally, they will return to ACME for a follow-up training to share lessons learned from the field and to hear from high-level experts from government, the academia and civil society on illicit financial flows.
While it is still early days, the course has already benefited all paprticipants.
“This training has given me an opportunity to rebrand as a journalist, and I look forward to the one-on-one engagement with my mentor,” says Muhammadi Matovu, a journalist at Nile Post.
ACME’s partnership with Thomson Reuters Foundation in the Wealth of Nations programme complements the organisation’s broader strategic mission that seeks to provide mid-career journalists with continuous learning opportunities to improve the quantity, quality and relevance of public affairs coverage.