The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) has released a new report focused on pathways to media reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa. It recommends building new networks of solidarity and developing new skills and approaches.
The report was drawn from the discussions of 36 experts in media and governance from 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa who met in Durban, South Africa, in July 2017 to discuss strategies for confronting the growing challenges to media pluralism in the African region.
The report title ”Pathways to Media Reform in Sub‑Saharan Africa : Reflections from a Regional Consultation” was written by Herman Wasserman, professor of media studies and director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa and Nicholas Benequista, research manager and editor at the Center for International Media Assistance.
It was built on the experts’ discussions and drawn from research from across the continent to put forward a vision of how broader cross-country coalitions in sub-Saharan Africa could create pathways around the complex political, economic, and technological challenges of the day as well as media systems that could support the revitalization of democracies in the region.
The authors, suggested pathways on how the continued struggle for vibrant, independent, and plural media systems in sub-Saharan Africa might be able to effectively bolster efforts of democratic revitalization.
The new publication also expanded on insights and ideas that came from the expert discussion by documenting previously successful media reforms in sub-Saharan Africa.
This document puts forward a strategic vision for international collaboration and solidarity in sub-Saharan Africa in support of media pluralism; it does not intend to suggest a blueprint or template, but is a call for more coordinated and strategic action.
The report highlighted issues around media development in sub-Saharan Africa which include, threats affecting media freedom gains, the place of media in African politics, building broader coalitions for media reform and assessment of current networks – organizations and networks dedicated to media support in sub-Saharan Africa.
As a result of the deterioration of democratic culture and a growing intolerance towards the media across the sub-Saharan Africa, the need to build new networks of solidarity and develop new skills and approaches was recommended in the report.
Building new networks of solidarity: Experts group identified the need to formulate a common position for advocating on media issues at the global level and at important upcoming events on the continent. In building these new networks of solidarity, particular attention should be paid to under-represented organizations and actors in existing coalitions, such as research groups, media literacy organizations, and transnational or regional networks.
Developing new skills and approaches: For African media to continue to be relevant in a political context of growing intolerance for the media, it needs to develop new strategies of coping with challenges to its democratic role. To meet these new challenges, more than advocacy for media independence, freedom, and pluralism will be required. Journalists and citizens in the region will have to develop critical literacies that would enable them to meet these new challenges and engage more effectively with policy makers and ensure greater sustainability for the media in a changing environment. Collaboration with research organizations and universities in the region can play an important role in this regard.
To download the full report, please visit Pathways to Media Reform in Sub-Saharan Africa.