21st October 2021
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According to a new research, radio remains the preferable source for mass-media news in Africa. 42% of Africans report using it the most to get news. Although television is a daily news source, only about one in three Africans (35%) use it as a top source for news. The research also says only 7% of Africans read newspapers daily.

Source: Afrobarometer

Use of internet and social media as a source of news is rapidly on the rise among young urban and better educated Africans. Almost one in five Africans say they use the Internet (18%) and/or social media (19%) daily for news although there are sharp variations in different countries.

Source: Afrobarometer

A surprising view about the research is that more and more Africans are reducing their support for press freedom. About 49% in 34 countries want the governments to prevent publications of news they consider harmful. However, there is a sharp contrast in views across countries. For example, 80% of Gambians want to see more media freedom while a whopping 66% of Gabonese want more control from the government.

Source: Afrobarometer

What does this report mean for press freedom and democracy in Africa? If more and more people are against freedom of press, how can ordinary citizens know what’s going on with government policies and actions? Autocratic governments could determine that a credible news item is harmful and go on to ban it thereby continuing its bad policies in secrecy. Journalists who work to expose corrupt practices in governments could be at risk of jail.  

Radio being the dominant source of news consumption means that development initiatives, NGOs and social movements should make more use of this channel when disseminating information in order to broaden its reach. Social media, although becoming more important should never be the only source of information campaigns.

Feature image: Bayo Omoboriowo

Ides Ofune

Ides Ofune is currently a PhD Student at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on civil society and accountability in improving the quality of education. She is the founder of Desert Bloom Initiative and editor of Desert Bloom Advisory. Ides is very passionate about education and creating an inclusive society. She speaks French and English fluently. She can be reached at info@desertbloomadvisory.com