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News release

World Press Freedom Day: Africans strongly endorse media’s role in holding governments accountable

1 May 2024
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News release
Key findings
  • On average, 72% of Africans “agree” or “strongly agree” that the media “should constantly investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption” (Figure 1). o Only 25% instead favour the idea that “too much reporting on negative events, like government mistakes and corruption, only harms the country.”
  • About two-thirds (65%) of citizens endorse the principle that the media “should have the right to publish any views and ideas without government control” (Figure 2). o Support for media freedom is the majority view in 35 of the 39 surveyed countries, exceeding three-fourths of the citizenry in Seychelles (84%), Mauritius (83%), Gabon (80%), and Congo-Brazzaville (79%). o The exceptions are Mali (where only 43% favour a free media), Mozambique (45%), Morocco (46%), and Sudan (47%).
  • In practice, a slimmer majority (57%) of Africans say the media in their country is either “completely” or “somewhat” free from government interference (Figure 3). o While most Tanzanians (82%), Gambians (79%), Tunisians (77%), and Mauritanians (76%) consider their media largely free, Gabon (14%), Congo-Brazzaville (21%), and Eswatini (26%) are the most dramatic examples of countries where only a minority see the media as free.
  • Two-thirds (65%) of citizens say they access radio news at least “a few times a week,” with 41% tuning in “every day” (Figure 4). o A majority (54%) say they gather news from television, 45% say they access social media, while 41% access the Internet at least a few times a week. Fewer than one in six respondents (15%) report reading a newspaper at least a few times a week.

Africans overwhelmingly support media playing an important role in holding governments  accountable, particularly with regard to the scourge of corruption, the latest Afrobarometer  Pan-Africa Profile shows

Strong majorities support the media’s right to report as they see fit, free of government  interference. And a solid majority see their media as largely free, although assessments vary  widely by country. 

The findings also show important changes in how Africans use media to access news and  information. Radio remains the most-accessed medium, although digital use continues to  grow. However, despite significant gains in Internet and social media access in recent years,  inequities in access across gender, education, age, urban/rural, and income lines persist,  and on some dimensions have actually grown larger than when overall access rates were  much lower. Radio, on the other hand, continues to be more evenly accessible across  demographic groups.