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Data show an increase in Media Freedom in Africa

Media freedom continues to experience more support in Africa, a study has shown.

A recent survey by Afrobarometer, a pan-African research network that measures public attitude towards economic, political, and social issues in Africa, shows that 31 out of 36 surveyed give priority to media freedom.

The study also indicated that in 30 of these countries, there has been a 12-point increase in the percentage of individuals who endorse the media’s right to publish any views and ideas without government control since the 2014/2015 survey.

The findings demonstrate a majority of Africans reject the notion that governments should be allowed to prevent the media from publishing content they disapprove of.

Majorities in all 36 surveyed countries endorse the media’s watchdog role in investigating and reporting on government mistakes and corruption.

The data also show that a majority of Africans assess their country’s media as “somewhat” or “completely” free. But Gabon, Eswatini, Côte d’Ivoire, and Cameroon register large majorities who describe their country’s media as “not very free” or “not at all free.”

The main findings of the survey conducted across 36 African countries indicate that, on average, 65% of citizens agree or strongly agree that the media should have the right to publish any views and ideas without government control. This sentiment is particularly strong in Mauritius (84%), Seychelles (84%), Gabon (79%), and Botswana (77%).

In 30 countries surveyed both in 2014/2015 and 2021/2022, there has been a 12 percentage point increase in support for media freedom. Notably, Senegal recorded a more than twofold increase in support for free media, from 27% to 73%, with 17 other countries also seeing double-digit increases. Additionally, almost three-quarters (73%) of citizens agreed or strongly agreed that the media should continuously investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption.

while 25% say “too much reporting on negative events, like government mistakes and corruption, only harms the country”

Close to six in 10 (58%) say the media in their country is “completely” or “somewhat” free while others Perceived media freedom is highest in Tanzania (81%), the Gambia (79%), Tunisia (76%), and Mauritania (75%).

In Kenya, President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua have assured citizens that the government is interested in an independent media to perform a watchdog role in society.

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