English language newspapers going extinct! Publishers call for creation of special fund to rescue sector

By Doh James Sonkey

The Cameroon English Language Newspaper Publishers Association abbreviated as CENPA has called on the President of the Republic, H.E Paul Biya to come to the rescue of English language newspapers in Cameroon crippled by the ongoing sociopolitical crisis in the North West and South West regions.

CENPA members made the call last August 4, 2023 in Ebolowa, capital of the South region at the end of their two-day workshop on the theme, “Rescuing the dying Anglophone print media.”

The President of CENPA, Kristian Ngah Christian, who is also publisher of The Guardian Post in his welcome remark at the opening of the workshop, decried the fact that the government seems to be looking away while the English language newspapers are going down the drain.

Group picture of CENPA members, representative of Minister of Communication and resources persons

“While it is an established fact that the media industry in Cameron is facing numerous challenges, the case of English language newspapers is peculiar in that we lack sponsors. It is regrettable that Anglophones, by their nature, don’t have the culture of promoting media organs,” Ngah stated.

The CENPA President decried that “most of the English language newspaper Publishers, already seriously affected by the armed conflict in the North West and South West regions, can barely afford the high publication cost. The disturbing situation of English language newspapers has further been compounded by the economic downturn caused by the armed conflict in the North West and South West regions, high cost of printing materials, lack of sponsors and the advent of the social media, which has seriously affected sales of printed newspaper copies.”

Ngah Christian Mbipgo recalled that prior to the crisis, English language newspapers used to have advertising jobs from companies like Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, PAMOL and other well established private companies in these two regions. The crisis has crippled these companies, making it difficult for them to advertise in newspapers”.

He declared that “English language newspapers have, because of the crisis, lost more than 80% of their readership in the North West and South West regions.”

The CENPA President concluded that, “We would therefore not be seen to be asking too much, if we plead with the President of the Republic, through His Excellency the Minister of Communication, to create a Special Fund for English language newspapers. We remember that Government created a special fund for small and medium sized enterprises when Cameroon was hit by COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, presiding over the opening of the workshop on behalf of the Minister of Communication, the South Regional Delegate of Communication, Beko’o B’evina Marguerite Solange, also recalling the challenges being by faced by the print media, causing its decline, said English language newspapers “are most hit by this decline of interest in publications and other crisis that the sector is facing”.

The Regional Delegate reassured thatM, “The government of Cameroon, through the Ministry of Communication, is ever ready to stand by the side of the English language newspaper sector to help in resolving this crisis that the sector is going through. The wish of the Ministry of Communication is to see the English language newspaper sector revamped.”

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