ANIC, UNESCO Collaborate to Enhance Access to Information in Africa

Advocate Pansy Tlakula
Chairperson of ANIC

The African Network of Information Commissioners (ANIC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have joined forces with the goal of strengthening access to information legal frameworks and implementation across Africa. This collaboration aims to empower individuals with the right to information, promote transparency, and enhance accountability on the continent.

ANIC, formed during the International Conference of Information Commissioners in Johannesburg in March 2019, consists of oversight bodies on access to information from 14 African countries, including Kenya, South Sudan, Seychelles, South Africa, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana.

At ANIC’s regional meeting held in Nairobi on June 6 and 7, 2023, Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, said UNESCO, as the custodian UN agency of Sustainable Development Goal 16.10.2, took immediate interest in ANIC’s mission and provided unwavering support to its cause.

During ANIC’s first General Assembly in April 2022, the organization’s Charter was considered, paving the way for a collaborative partnership with UNESCO. Recognizing the urgency of their work, both entities have been dedicated to strengthening the network and advocating for access to information across the African continent.

With UNESCO’s support, ANIC has developed a comprehensive communication strategy to raise awareness of the network’s objectives and activities. This strategy includes the establishment of an informative website, an active presence on various social media platforms, and the upcoming launch of a newsletter. These communication channels aim to foster dialogue, promote the exchange of ideas, and engage with stakeholders on matters related to access to information in Africa.

The collaboration between UNESCO and ANIC extends beyond communication initiatives. The two organizations are working together to identify training needs within ANIC member countries. A dedicated working group is being formed to analyze these needs and develop a training plan that prioritizes capacity-building activities. UNESCO has demonstrated its commitment by previously launching a self-paced course on access to information, available in multiple UN languages, in partnership with the Centre of Law and Democracy.

In addition to strengthening ANIC’s internal capacities, UNESCO has facilitated the network’s participation in international events and forums focused on access to information. Through these platforms, ANIC has successfully positioned itself as a key partner in promoting the right to information in Africa, furthering its regional and international influence.

Looking ahead, ANIC and UNESCO are eager to expand the network by inviting new members. Angola, Congo, Tanzania, and Namibia have been invited to explore the benefits of joining the network and actively contribute to strengthening access to information in their respective countries.

Together, these countries aim to reinforce mechanisms for disseminating and promoting the right to information at the regional level, and contributing to a more transparent and accountable society.

To ensure the sustainability of their efforts, ANIC and UNESCO are also focusing on outreach and fundraising activities.

With the collaboration between ANIC and UNESCO gaining momentum, significant strides have been taken in the journey towards enhancing access to information in Africa.