Solar Energy Stories glow dimly in East Africa’s Newsrooms.

Diana Kibuuka

Much as Solar energy is taking off in East Africa’s journey to energy transition, especially in the agricultural production chain, this renewable energy is still finding it hard to hit front pages and making headlines in the media.

In a recent report on Media Coverage Of Solar Energy In Agriculture In East Africa – 2023, by the African Centre For Media Excellence (ACME) in partnership with Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, it was revealed that in the 12 months of year 2023, only 30 stories focusing on solar energy use in agriculture managed to make it through, in six East Africa’s leading daily newspapers and television stations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The report further notes that in three studied publications, solar related stories appeared beyond page 5.

The report points at; lack of knowledge about solar energy in farmers and the reporters, budget constraints, market unattractiveness of solar energy stories and lack of reporters specializing in solar energy reporting, as key factors limiting a bigger coverage of solar energy stories.

Findings in the general coverage of the solar energy topic in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, in 2023 show that Uganda recorded the highest number of stories totaling to 30, followed by Kenya with 23 stories and Tanzania 10 stories, making a total of 63 related to solar energy that were released last year.

The highest number of stories on solar energy in agriculture addressed issues of financing off-grid solar for productive use solutions and community impact or livelihood improvement.

Solar entrepreneurship and innovation stories featured in second place, followed by coverage of PUSE stakeholder coordination and ecosystem support.

Source: ACME Baseline report on media coverage of solar energy

During  a one-week workshop  at the African Centre For Media Excellence in Bunga – Kampala, that aimed at equipping 14 journalists from different regions of Uganda, with knowledge and skills to champion off-grid renewable energy reporting in Agriculture, Jeff Mbanga the Business Editor at The Observer who also facilitated some sessions  said, there’s a lot more for journalists to cover about the nexus of solar energy in agriculture and other sectors of development,  but it requires a journalist’s clear understanding of not only solar energy and other related renewables, but the whole  energy evolution right  from  1954 when Queen Elizabeth II officially commissioned the Nalubaale hydropower project.

ACME’s Recheal Mugarura, a renowned media trainer, while engaging the journalists, she interested them on why it’s important to focus their stories on the entire value chain of a given product in agriculture, explaining that, this can help to identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement, encourage investment in these areas, highlight innovation and best practices in agriculture, and championing eco-conscious agriculture.

You can also read: https://acme-ug.org/2023/12/26/covering-renewable-energy-and-agriculture-value-chains-in-east-africa/

The report recommends that Journalists, editors, and media organizations integrate solar energy and its productive use in agriculture as an important beat in their editorial plan, provide journalists with on-the-job professional training to understand solar energy issues, because university curricula do not focus on solar energy training, boost media coverage of solar energy issues through improved resources, such as giving journalists more time to conduct thematic news coverage and including female sources in their stories for a balanced perspective of solar energy issues

You can access full report here: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=baseline+reporton+media+coverage+of+solar+energy

About The Author

Diana Kibuuka

Diana Kibuuka is an Environment and Climate Change female journalist from Uganda. She's also running a Climate Change Podcast; Dina;s planet: https://dinasplanet.buzzsprout.com and and Climate change blog;https://africanjournalistsgreenisland.org/

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