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Africa’s Debt Burden: Media need to play watchdog role – Mbamalu

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Veteran journalist, East-West Centre Fellow, and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Prime Business, Dr. Marcel Mbamalu has charged the media to play its watchdog role and probe loan expenditure by government.

Speaking at a webinar as part of the launch of Prime Business, an online business newspaper by multimedia company Newstide Publications Limited, Dr. Mbamalu said the media was not doing enough in “probing and playing the watchdog role.”

The webinar was moderated by a former Guardian Editor, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo, and guests were made up of experts in economy and communications. Development economist, data scientist, and project finance expert, Dr. Bongo Adi was the keynote speaker on the theme ‘Debt Burden and Quest for Economic Recovery.

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The panelists were scholar and businessman Prof. Pat Utomi, career diplomat Ambassador Ejeviome Eloho Otobo, and founder of African Media Agency (AMA) Ms. Eloine Barry.

Dr. Mbamalu noted the various attempts by government to gag the media and bully the press into becoming pro-government mouthpieces, however, he said the media can still do better in keeping the issues around government borrowings fresh in the minds of the public, especially on the lack of transparency in the loan deals with China.

“The media can do better by keeping the issues fresh and constantly asking questions of leaders who go borrowing. It is not enough to report on the new debts, questions should be asked as to what legacy projects have come out from debts incurred years ago and for which deductions are being made at sources, as well as, what the opportunity costs there are.”

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Addressing the audience, Dr. Adi, who is the Chairman of the Board of Newstide Publications, expressed confidence in Prime Business playing the role of a watchdog when he said, “I am very confident this project will redefine the practice of journalism in Africa.”

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