The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) Financial Journalism Training Program to advance business and financial reporting has been launched in Zambia.

More than 50 delegates will take part in the first intake of the training that will be offered in partnership with the University of Lusaka Business School, and the University of Zambia’s Department of Media and Communication.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya observed that journalism standards had dwindled in the country.

She said she was therefore excited that Bloomberg had invested in building capacity amongst Zambian journalists to better report on the local economy.

“As government, we have observed with great concern that journalism standards in the country have gone down. This is a paradox considering that the media industry is growing very rapidly. Government has also invested heavily in broadcast media with digital technology across the country. There are currently over a 115 radio stations, over 55 TV stations, over 11 newspaper publications as well as a number of online publications. But all this is over shadowed by the sometimes below par standards of journalism. Most of the journalism is restricted only to politics and it is usually the pitting of one political party against the other and as a result, there are not many stories of other issues of public interest. This is why I was overjoyed to learn that the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa has extended the financial journalism training initiative to Zambia, to be facilitated by the University of Zambia and the University of Lusaka,” said Siliya.

“We are pleased to be attending yet another BMIA milestone event in Zambia and be part of the launch of the financial journalism training program in the country. The Zambian economy is constantly evolving and changing, so it is crucial that the press develops accordingly. I am confident that this program will support the continuous progression of the Zambian media by exposing them to leading financial journalism experts.”

And BMIA Director Erana Stennett said it was time African journalists reclaimed the narrative about the continent by providing factual, well researched articles.

“We are excited to be back here in Zambia soon after the success of the African Business Media Innovators summit to launch the BMIA Financial Journalism Training Program. We have seen the positive impact the program had in other markets and hope the training helps further the development, quality, accuracy and impact of the financial journalism field in Africa,” said Stennett.

University of Zambia Vice Chancellor Professor Luke Evuta Mumba and his University of Lusaka counterpart Professor Pinalo Chifwanakeni both thanked Bloomberg for the initiative, saying they were confident it would enhance financial journalism in the country.

During the next six months, the delegates will spend 19 days in sessions led by prominent faculty at the two local educational institutions and will cover topics to strengthen their skills in data analysis, capital markets, accounting, public policy, economics and journalism. They will also have a free subscription to the global data, news and information provided on the Bloomberg Terminal.

The Training Program was previously offered in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, graduating more than 500 delegates. The program was also recently expanded to Ghana.

The Training Program is a core component of the BMIA, which aims to contribute to the advancement of business and financial reporting in Africa, recognizing the important role the media plays in promoting transparency, accountability and good governance. The BMIA is a project of Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Training Program in Zambia will also receive support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

“We are very excited to see the start of this new phase of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Financial Journalism Training program. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is proud to partner with Bloomberg in helping equip a global talent pool of journalists with the sort of specialist expertise that can drive them towards attaining a high level of professional excellence. This is the basis of a robust, ethical, independent press, which now seems to be more critical than ever,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Since its launch, BMIA has reached more than 1,000 stakeholders in Africa, with delegates from 13 countries graduating from the BMIA Financial Journalism Training Program.

BMIA has also sponsored four annual conferences for media owners and senior leaders in business, government and civil society, with the most recent taking place in Livingstone last November; a Fellowship for editors and senior journalists and a fund to promote community media and citizen journalism. The Ford Foundation has also provided support for some of these activities.