Senegal and Tunisia are among the countries that have fallen the most in the annual press freedom ranking, published on Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
According to RSF, the specialists who contribute to the formulation of the ranking "report the involvement of political actors" in "massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns" in two-thirds of the 180 nations surveyed.
Senegal (104th, -31 places) and Tunisia (121st, -27 places) have experienced the most dramatic decreases in Africa.
The 2023 edition of this benchmark index reveals that 7 out of 10 countries have poor conditions for doing journalism.
The NGO is concerned about the prevalence of misinformation on social media, as evidenced by fake visuals generated by artificial intelligence (AI).
RSF compiles this global ranking using "a quantitative survey of abuses committed against journalists" on the one side and "a qualitative study" on the other.
The latter is based "on the answers to a hundred questions from hundreds of press freedom experts (journalists, academics, and human rights defenders)."
Below are the 10 highest-ranked African countries by RSF.
When it comes to press freedom, Namibia remains the finest in Africa. Since 2019, Namibia has held this status.
According to RSF, press freedom is incorporated into Namibia's constitution and it is s protected in court when threatened.
However, Journalists are occasionally targeted. One such instance occurred in 2019, following revelations that officials were accepting bribes in exchange for access to Namibia's fishing grounds.
Nonetheless, Namibia's journalists are having a good day.
Press freedom in South Africa has greatly improved compared to some years back when the press was fragile.
Anti-terrorism and apartheid-era legislation are often used to limit the coverage of government institutions, however, this has reduced drastically since the administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Before the present administration, reporters face a lot of repression including attacks with rubber bullets for not complying with lockdown measures.
There was a law that sentences journalists to up to six months in prison for spreading fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic, this law has also been scrapped giving journalists and media houses in South Africa the maximum freedom they need to operate in the country.
In the region, Cape Verde stands out for its favourable working environment for journalists.
The Constitution guarantees press freedom. Despite this, the heads of state-owned media, which dominate the media landscape, are directly appointed by the government.
Given its small size, Cape Verde has a diverse media landscape.
There are five TV networks, including the most popular, the state-run Televiso de Cabo Verde (TCV), which covers the entire archipelago, three privately owned channels, and a Portuguese channel aimed at Portuguese-speaking African countries.
The country also has more than 20 radio stations, the most popular of which is the state-owned Radio de Cabo Verde RCV.
A state-run news agency (Infopress), two privately owned newspapers, and roughly five news websites are among the print and internet media outlets.
Seychelles is one of the African countries that has seen significant progress in press freedom.
In recent years, there has been significant growth in privately held media in Seychelles.
Furthermore, the public media is gradually breaking free from its previous tight state grip.
They can now openly criticize the government on issues such as nepotism and corruption.
The new president of the opposition party holds regular news conferences, and no journalist is prevented from attending.
Since the end of Yahya Jammeh's 22-year dictatorship in 2017, Gambia has made significant progress in terms of press freedom.
In 2018, the criminalization of defamation was found unconstitutional, and attacks on journalists have diminished, while new media sites have emerged.
Since Adama Barrow's inauguration as president in January 2017, the state-owned broadcaster has lost its monopoly, and numerous radio and television stations, both privately owned and community-based, have been established.
Gambia has 45 radio stations, one of which is state-owned; five television channels, four of which are privately held; four dailies, the most prominent of which is The Point; and a weekly newspaper, Gambia Daily.
The media landscape of Côte d'Ivoire is one of the most politicized and polarized in West Africa.
Prosecutors sometimes summon journalists for questioning, and some are assaulted physically or verbally. Suspension of newspapers is not unusual.
Radio is the most popular medium, with at least 190 licensed stations.
The majority of the country's around 100 newspapers and news websites have a strong political bent, which is indicated on newsstands by the colour of the publications: green for those that favour the ruling party and blue for those who support the opposition.
Although Le Temps and La Voie originale are still published regularly, the latter has declined in recent years.
The launch of the first privately owned TV channels in 2019 broke Radiodiffusion télévision ivoirienne (RTI)'s more than 50-year monopoly.
The country today has three private television channels, all of which are controlled by members of the ruling party.
Until recently, Burkina Faso was regarded as one of Africa's success stories in terms of journalistic freedom.
However, the increased violence and political instability associated with the coups in January and September 2022 have had a significant negative impact on journalists' safety and access to information.
Burkina Faso has a vibrant, professional, and diverse media environment. It includes 80 newspapers (including Sidwaya, L'Evénement, and Le Pays), 185 radio stations (including Omega FM), around 30 television channels (including Radiodiffusion, Télévision du Burkina, and BF1), and 161 news websites (including faso.net and Burkina 24).
The investigative journalism culture is quite popular, and the first online newspaper dedicated to investigative reporting was launched in early 2023.
However, as the security and political environment has deteriorated, there has been an increase in outside pressure and self-censorship.
RFI and France 24 have been halted until further notice in December 2022 and March 2023, respectively.
Despite an encouraging decrease in the number of violations of press freedom, the regional context marked by counter-terrorism efforts continues to have a significant impact on both journalists' safety and the population's access to information.
After the state's media monopoly was lifted in 1991, Niger's media landscape flourished, with the capital, Niamey, receiving its first independent weeklies, including Haské, Le Républicain, and Le Démocrate.
In 1994 and 2000, the first privately owned radio station (R&M) and television channel (RTT) were established. In 2022,
Niger has 67 privately owned radio stations, 198 community or association radio stations, 15 privately owned TV channels, and 16 news websites, the most prominent of which are Libération, Tamtaminfo, and NigerDiaspora.
When compared to the previous year, Ghana's ranking remained unchanged.
Ghana continues to present itself as Africa's beacon of democracy. Chapter 12 of the country's 1992 constitution protects media independence and pluralism.
The country, however, is not without its difficulties. In 2018, some investigative journalists had to go into hiding to make a documentary on corruption in Ghanaian soccer.
Nonetheless, the adoption of a law granting access to state-held information is the most significant step forward for journalists.
This is 20 years after it was initially introduced in parliament.
Mauritius wraps the tenth spot on this list. However, it is important to mention that the country slipped 5 places to 63rd position on the global ranking.
Since Mauritius presents itself as one of the models for human rights and democracy on the African continent, the media remains polarized.
The national radio and television are often guilty of propaganda while the opposition media are sidelined. Press freedom is bleak in Mauritius—and it could get worse.
For obvious reasons, the list won't be complete if we fail to include Nigeria.
Although Nigeria did not rank in the top ten of the best African countries with press freedom, it is still necessary to know where our country ranks.
Nigeria is one of the most dangerous and hardest countries in West Africa for journalists, who are frequently monitored, attacked, and unjustly detained, as was the case during the 2023 elections.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has a diversified and rich media landscape.
The print media has declined dramatically in recent years, although there are still over 100 publications, the most well-known of which are The Punch, The Nation, Vanguard, Guardian, and The Premium Times.
In addition, the majority of the 36 states have a state-owned daily newspaper that is directly controlled by the local government.
Along with international media, there are several hundred radio stations and TV channels.
Social media's ubiquity has helped to diversify the media landscape, but it has also contributed to misinformation.
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