Opinion makers

Among the main opinion makers in the DRC there are:

• Politicians, often taking advantage of important deadlines and political circumstances to sell their brand image through speeches, usually limited to their self-promotion (Digital Congo, TV 50, RALIK, Groupe l'Avenir, Canal Futur, Canal Kin, etc);

• Promoters of “revival churches” medias, for preaching reasons but also for a kind of self-promotion and promotion of their churches in a highly competitive space (media created by pastor Sonny Kafuta, media created by pastor Mutombo Leopold, media created by bishop Pascal Mukuna, media created by pastor Sikatenda, , etc);

• The Catholic Church and the Kimbanguist Church, in the framework of the promotion of their respective doctrines through the dissemination of their cults, as well as debates often focusing on issues related to development and human rights (Radio Maria, RTCE, RTK, etc);

• The civil society organisations for the promotion of local development through the “radios de proximité” (Proximity radios or associative and communitarian radios like Radio Maendeleo in Bukavu, Radio Sauti ya Mkaaji in Kasongo, etc);

• Businessmen simply wanting to invest in the media field to gain financial benefits from advertising but also requests for airplay (Raga TV, Raga FM, CNTV, Antenna A, etc).

• It is important to note also the presence of the media created by humanitarian operators and international organisations or even by the United Nations. Such is the case of Radio Okapi which was a joint project of “Fondation Hirondelle” and the United Nations which covers almost the whole of the DRC. Fondation Hirondelle has left the project since 2017.

The target audience of these various information channels is diverse: For media created by politicians, auditors and viewers are usually members of their political organisations or simply their relatives. The influence of the discourse promoted by these media is thus very limited and with a small social impact. These media nonetheless contribute to informing about the most prominent political trends. They contribute to the media plurality of the fact that often their websites also publish information and analyzes carried out by other media. They are accessible by smartphones.

Politicians are the most prominent opinion makers in DRC. Not only most of them are the holders of private media, but they are also in a good financial position to access both public and private media. Those closed or member of the current political regime take also advantage in using public media which quite exclusively belong to the regime. The promoters of the églises de réveil (awakening churches) are the second group to influence the public/internal opinion. They are able to reach a critical mass of population using their own media and accessing other media, also having, like politician, means for that. They also use both public and their own media to advertise on themselves. In general, the Congolese do not trust politicians as they appear like liars and opportunists, changing at several occasions their own speeches and alliances.

The religious media, generally based in the cities, are more followed by the members of the revival churches. These members generally follow the sermons and prayers that are organised live by these media. These are usually media that have no development program. Their general impact is thus limited to the dissemination of religious doctrine.

The associative and community media, generally installed in the hinterland and in the villages, are followed by the members of those villages. These media organise generally programs focused on community development and peace. From time to time they organise political programs. Community members organize sometimes form themselves as “listening clubs” to track, criticise, and make suggestions for the programs they broadcast. The impact of these media is felt particularly through communities affected by conflicts and poverty. Such is the example of the Radio TV Christian Assembly (RTACK) of Kinshasa which is property of Pastor Pascal Mukuna’s church.

Blogs remain simple tools for personal communication, with scarce influence on the public opinion and very limited access. They are like personal websites. In addition to these individual spaces, there are other websites that are regularly and popularly frequented, particularly as they display information that is of primary use for the Congolese intellectual class looking for work, for example. This is the case, for example, of Mediascongo.net, which publishes daily, with regular updates, about vacancies and open tenders through agencies of the United Nations System, the Congolese government public services, the European Union, international and national NGOs, etc. The interest directly displayed by those who use is all the more obvious as the information they find there is very often relevant. This is also the case of Radiookapi.net because the information it publishes is generally considered credible and plural. The latter site has the advantage of publishing information on open job openings across the country as well as tenders.

But it is also important to note that there are several social issues that are still ignored by the media. The situation of various internally displaced persons fleeing conflicts, social insecurity or cases of diseases, the situation of foreign refugees in the DRC or even of Congolese who have gone abroad seeking refuge, the public expenditures trends, are all issues hardly ever covered by Congolese media. It is the same on issues about statistics, education, health, humanitarian situations, etc. The absence of specific public communication mechanisms on these topics widens the "black spots" which are not covered and which are not brought to the attention of public opinion and deciders.