Government to Invest 2 Billion in Revival of Vernacular NewsPapers.

Naboth Isaac Niwagaba.

The government is set to recapitalize the Vision group with funding totaling UgX 2 billion to facilitate the revival of Vernacular papers Orumuri, Rupiny, and Etop whose publisher closed due to financial challenges.

This was revealed by the Minister of ICT and National Guidance Dr. Chris Baryomunsi while addressing the press at the two-day workshop for journalists organized by the Media Council of Uganda at Kirigime Guest House in Kabale Municipality.

Orumuri, Etop, and Rupiny, published by media conglomerate Vision Group, were closed indefinitely in June, over financial constraints that were worsened by the second  COVID-19 wave whose peak was registered in June 2021.

Ms. Barbara Kaija, the Vision Group Editor-in-Chief, said the closure of the weekly newspapers was long overdue as it was no longer sustainable to keep them on the market.

“The cost of production was beyond what we could manage,” Kaija said. “Publishing a newspaper involves the importation of paper and ink. Sometimes the cost was subsidized by the New Vision newspaper, but it was also not making enough money to sustain all the three outlets.”

However, Minister  Baryomunsi is also the Member of parliament Kinkizi East revealed that the Government had already earmarked 2b to facilitate the return of the local papers.

Baryomunsi argued that the vernacular papers were not only important in promoting and preserving the local languages, but also they were usually the alternative for semi-illiterate Ugandans interested in information published in print media. He asked the public to support the Vision group by buying the papers if they are to sustain their existence after the revival.

“I call upon all Ugandans to support these papers by buying them because it is their money that will keep them in circulation, not government money,” said Baryomunsi.

Orumuri, which was first printed in 1989, was published in Runyankole-Rukiga with its primary audience in the greater western Uganda region. Etop, the Soroti-based Ateso newspaper, whose primary circulation was in Ateso speaking districts, was due to celebrate its 30-year anniversary before publication was suspended.

Rupiny, published in Luo and serving the greater northern Uganda region, was first published in 1994 and made a name by providing vital news and information about the insurgency led by the Lord’s Resistance Army.