Waihiga Mwaura, BBC

Waihiga Mwaura, BBC

Renowned BBC Africa Business journalist, Waihiga Mwaura, discusses the power and importance of nuanced African journalism and how it can effect change 

What led you into journalism, and what would you be doing if you weren’t a journalist?

A passion for storytelling and the desire to make some impact in this world is what really drew me into journalism. The pen is mightier than the sword and through this platform I am able to shine a light on societal injustices and advocate for change. And I see this as a privilege because society has given us (the media) a platform to inform, educate, fact-check and investigate on their behalf so that they have enough information to make well-informed decisions about the world they live in and about their leadership whether at a local, national or global level.

If I weren’t a journalist, I can picture myself in the human rights field, championing for justice for those who have been financially or legally marginalized. Another path I have recently taken an interest in is advocating for inclusivity in AI development, specifically for the African continent.

When you’re researching stories, what compels you to work on sharing a particular story with your audience? Any hot trends we should look out for in the coming months?

The stories that truly excite me have to do with unearthing hidden facts, offering a fresh perspective on complex issues or highlighting illegalities in society.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’m also drawn to stories that others shy away from, those that bring underreported truths to light.

Looking ahead, I can predict an increase in stories that explore the rise of usage of artificial intelligence across society and  its intersection with the African continent. I also predict in the ‘year of democracy’ where more than four-billion people in more than 50 countries will vote to elect their leaders and representatives – elections, transitions and delivery will be hot topics from South Africa to Ghana to the United Kingdom and the United States.

Why is African business so unique and what makes it so exciting to report on?

Unlike many older and well-established economies, younger African economies present a wealth of untapped potential and in that there are opportunities to tell great stories. For too long, those stories have focused on the challenges of the continent but what is interesting is how those challenges are being transformed into incredible business opportunities. Innovative entrepreneurs are finding new ways to solve old problems and create jobs at the same time.

Reporting on African business is exciting because of the potent mix of youthful players, insurmountable challenges, uneven odds, great ingenuity and finally transformative success.

Which sectors or industries do you like to cover most and why? 

I typically love to cover technology, food security and the oil and gas plus extractives sector. These sectors have the greatest promise for creating jobs on the African continent. Technology is a disrupter, with the ability to transform the continent. Getting Africa’s food security right means we can empower individuals and communities. Finally, the oil and gas industry, along with mineral resources, represent a significant portion of Africa’s wealth. However, the prevailing narrative at the moment is that these resources do not add transformative value to local communities. This needs to change.

Why is it important that people around the world get to hear about young, growing companies on the continent?

It’s crucial for people around the world to hear about young, growing companies on the African continent because it shatters the stereotype of a helpless, hopeless Africa. Highlighting these businesses shows the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit and the exciting potential for growth.

Secondly, nuanced coverage of African products and services can significantly improve their reputation on the global market. This would encourage consumers to embrace the quality and innovation coming out of Africa. Finally, this kind of exposure attracts investors and funders worldwide. This can lead to a significant influx of investment, fueling further growth and job creation across the continent.

How can we encourage more people to join the writing community and dedicate their energy to telling stories about African business?

This isn’t a simple question to answer but I would say that we need to create incentives that ignite the passion of young writers. For example, this could involve awards programs encouraging new writers to take their craft to the next level.

Secondly, let’s celebrate those who are already making a difference. Highlighting the work of existing African business journalists can be a powerful motivator. Showcasing their achievements can inspire others to step forward and join forces in telling stories about African business.