Africa has been through a media boom. In 1985 there were only 10 commercial broadcasters in Africa, today the number of private and community radios stations are above 2.000 and there are more than 300 independent TV stations.
The media environment has continued to change due to the expansion of access to internet and the use of social media platforms. The increased use of smart phones and improved infrastructure has boosted the use of social media where platforms as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Snapchat have grown extremely popular. For some, social media has become their primary source of information as well as the tool for communicating with friends and family.
These developments have brought with them complex new opportunities for citizens to access information and take part in public debates. However, there is also a new set of challenges that need to be addressed for the media potential to fully flourish:
First, the shrinking space for civil society also influences the media as an increased number of governments have put restrictions on the media’s ability to function.
Secondly, problems with journalistic quality are still prevalent across the continent and media content does not fully address the concerns of all citizens. There is a tendency to cover the interests of those in power and with resources, whereas rural populations, those with little or no education, women, children, people affected by a humanitarian crisis, migrants, and marginalized population are given less prominence in the media coverage and their voices are often not heard.
Furthermore, safety of journalists continues to be a great concern in many African countries as does fake news, which is not new to the continent but has become more apparent with the increased use of social media and easy spreading of news.
IMS’ engagement in Africa is built to address these various challenges that the media is facing. This is done by enhancing sustainable production of ethical and professional public interest journalism; support reform of policies, laws and regulations; strengthen safety and protection of media workers and promote inclusive workplaces (including concerns related to gender).
IMS primarily works in Southern, Eastern and Western Africa.
Contact person for Africa
Head of Department for Africa
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