Africans strongly endorse media’s role in holding governments accountable- Afrobarometer

Africans overwhelmingly support media playing a key role in holding governments accountable, particularly about the scourge of corruption, the latest Afrobarometer Pan-Africa Profile shows. The report, which was released ahead of the 2024 World Press Freedom Day, which falls on Friday, May 3, indicated that 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 significant changes in how Africans use media to access news and information. It reiterated that 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 grown larger than when overall access rates were much lower. The report said radio, on the other han d, continues to be more evenly accessible across demographic groups. Key findings of the report indicated that on average, 72 per cent of Africans 'agree' or 'strongly agree' that the media 'should constantly investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption.' It said only 25 per cent instead favour the idea that, 'too much reporting on negative events, like government mistakes and corruption, only harms the country.' It said about two-thirds (65 per cent) of citizens endorse the principle that the media 'should have the right to publish any views and ideas without government control.' It said support for media freedom was the majority view in 35 of the 39 surveyed countries, exceeding three-fourths of the citizenry in Seychelles (84 per cent), Mauritius (83 per cent), Gabon (80 per cent), and Congo-Brazzaville (79 per cent). It said the exceptions are Mali (where only 43 per cent favour a free media), Mozambique (45 per cent), Morocco (46 per cent), and Sudan (47 per cent). The report said i n practice, a slimmer majority (57 per cent) of Africans say the media in their country is either 'completely' or 'somewhat' free from government interference. It said while most Tanzanians (82 per cent), Gambians (79 per cent), Tunisians (77 per cent), and Mauritanians(76 per cent) consider their media largely free, Gabon (14 per cent), Congo-Brazzaville (21 per cent), and Eswatini (26 per cent) were the most dramatic examples of countries where only a minority see the media as free. It said two-thirds (65 per cent) of citizens say they access radio news at least 'a few times a week,' with 41 per cent tuning in 'every day'. It said the majority (54 per cent) say they gather news from television, 45 per cent say they access social media, while 41 per cent access the Internet at least a few times a week. The report said fewer than one in six respondents (15 per cent) report reading a newspaper at least a few times a week. It said there was a 27-percentage-point gap in regular Internet usage for news betwe en the youngest (18-35 years) and the oldest (56 years and above), a 35-point gap in Internet and social media use between urban and rural residents, and a 38-point gap in social media use between those with the highest and lowest levels of lived poverty. It said an astounding 70-point gap in Internet use separates those with the highest and lowest levels of education: While 81 per cent of those with education levels beyond secondary school report regularly using the Internet for news, only 11 per cent of those without any formal education do. The report said on most of these measures, the digital divide was about as large as - and in some cases larger than - it was almost a decade ago. Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Source: Ghana News Agency