Most African countries confirm principles of freedom of expression in their constitutions. However, in many cases there are strong limitations in the application of these principles. In addition to the conflict and repressive environments that mar many African countries, the main challenges for media are related to ensuring independence of national broadcasters, access to information and the abuse of defamation and libel laws as a political instrument.
The difference between access to media and information in the larger cities and the rural areas is major. While urban areas can often count on a variety of media offers such as newspapers, FM radio stations, TV and good mobile and internet infrastructure, rural areas usually lack newspapers and instead rely heavily on radio. The use of mobile phones is growing fast and Internet is also increasingly spreading, mainly in the cities.
Working conditions for journalists is poor in most countries and low salaries expose journalists to corruption. Weak journalist associations and unions often lack capacities to ensure the rights of their members and journalists and photographers are often badly equipped to manage violence and conflict. The quality of journalism also varies. In countries like Kenya, a strong and solid journalistic tradition exists, while in other countries like South Sudan, the journalistic profession is still in an embryonic stage.
IMS’ engagement in Africa is built around three tracks that address challenges facing media:
- Responding rapidly to the needs of media during conflicts and emergencies with a focus on safety and protection, filling information gaps and providing equipment;
- Medium-term engagements which focus on comprehensive media development initiatives seeking to respond to broad needs within the media sector;
- The promotion of specialised journalism training such as investigative journalism, conflict sensitive journalism or the channeling of humanitarian information through local media.
Contact person for Africa
Head of Department for Africa
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