Facts and Lies about Africa: A Matter of Life and Death

All across the length and breadth of Africa, people make decisions, big and small, every day. To do this, they have to rely on the best information that is publicly available. But often the information in the mainstream media, public discussions and social media is partial, misleading or just plain wrong. Misleading claims about minority populations, replayed in the traditional and social media, have led to everything from xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2015 to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. False media reports into health problems, such as polio, and supposed cures for diseases from HIV/AIDS to Ebola, have caused unnecessary sickness and death across the continent.

It was to start to tackle this problem that the continent’s first independent fact-checking website, www.africacheck.org, was set up in partnership with the Journalism Department of University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, in 2012, with a French-language version set up in partnership with the EJICOM journalism school in Dakar, Senegal, in 2015.

The role of Africa Check in promoting fact-checking journalism was the topic of a debate that took place on 19 October at the Institute of Advanced Studies run by the University of Westminster in London. Dr Winston Mano, Director of the Africa Media Centre, and Peter Cunliffe-Jones, Executive Director of Africa Check discussed the impact that the misrepresentations that take place have on the continent and what journalists around Africa can do to tackle this. Cunliffe-Jones explained the way Africa Check is seeking partners around Africa interesting in spreading this vital new form of journalism. He also discussed the growth in interest in the African Fact-Checking Awards which Africa Check now runs, and which saw record entries this year. French- and English-language winners of the awards are due to be announced at AMI’s Reporting Africa conference in Nairobi on 8 December.

For more information on Africa Check visit the website or email: info@africacheck.org.



November 2016- The Kenya Union of Journalists wants a state official to be prosecuted for threatening a journalist for writing a story about the possible loss of US$5 million. The  Health Principal Secretary Dr Nicholas Muragari told Stellar Murumba of the Nation Media Group that the government was capable of hacking into journalists’ computers and could always get a heads-up of any story before it was published. It could also snoop into her bank account, he is quoted as telling the journalist during an interview. “This is an affront on Chapter Six of our Constitution and we call upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to demand accountability from such public officers who believe that espionage in newsrooms is the only cure to corruption cancer in government ministries,” a statement from the KUJ said.

Mounting press freedom crisis in Burundi
Bujumbura, October 2016 — The Interior Minister Pascal Barandagiye indefinitely suspended the operating permits of five organizations, including the Burundian Union of Journalists (UBJ, by its French acronym), and banned an additional five leading civil society groups outright. The order came a day after Burundian security forces detained journalist Julia Steers, a fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation, her fixer Gildas Yihundimpundu, and driver Pascal Sinahagera while the three were reporting in the Mutakura suburb of Bujumbura, the site of days of protests in April 2015, according to media reports. Steers, an American citizen, was released to the U.S. Embassy soon after her arrest, but Yihundimpundu, who also freelances for the BBC, and Sinahagera, their driver, were held overnight at the headquarters of Burundi’s National Intelligence Service (SNR, by its French acronym.

Controversial media draft law for divided public opinion in Madagascar
Antananarivo, October 2016 — Journalist in the country have spent time this week contesting some articles in the controversial draft law. They complain that some of its provisions hinder freedom of expression and limit access to information.
The journalists are afraid of the legal implications of this media draft law.
Media professionals have also criticized the country’s communication ministry for lack of dialogue when the texts were being put together.
They are now calling upon UN officials in Madagascar to recommend dialogue between government officials and the media for the amelioration of the contested sections.
Madagascar’s press freedom improved from not free to partly free in 2015 due to a decline in direct pressure and censorship from highest levels of government, an independent watchdog organization, Freedom House says.

The Africa We Want : A Programme to Popularize Agenda 2063


The Africa We Want

A Programme to Popularize Agenda 2063

Eric Chinje, October 31, 2016

It will be interesting to find out how many people reading this would have heard about the African Union’s “Agenda 2063” – a seminal document that defines what it will take to get to the Africa that every African wants… in just under 50 years.

A meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, on October 24 & 25 of African editors and press officers, held under the auspices of the African Union Commission and the South African government, should ultimately determine how Agenda 2063 is internalized and plays out within the continental social space. The meeting, on the “Popularization of Agenda 2063”, sought to promote the domestication in all member countries of the African Union, of the document.

AUC Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was there over the two days of meeting, along with some of her Commissioners, advisers, and senior communications staff. She spoke passionately about “the Africa we want”, extolling the importance of the road map to get there. The road ahead will not be easy, she said, but it is one Africa must take if it is to reach its desired destination after the first 100 years of independence.

The leadership of the African Editors Forum (TAEF), the African Media Initiative (AMI), the Communications department of the AU and the Pan African Parliament were all there to discuss and to commit to having media play its central role in achieving the outcomes spelt out in Agenda 2063. So they all agreed, among other things, to promote the agenda within countries on the continent, promote a campaign to forge a strong cultural identity, a common heritage, shared values and ethics,… and to unlock the potential of the [African] creative sector.

A lot of good talk but, as the published report of the Agenda underscores, it is time for action; time to be part of the transformation. The aspirations are many, the roadmap quite extensive. Agenda 2063 calls for the eradication of poverty in the coming decade. This will be done through investments in the productive capacities of Africans, improving incomes, creating jobs and providing basic necessities of life.

The blueprint also includes a laundry list of achievable elements: the provision of decent and affordable housing; an educational and skills revolution that promotes science, technology, research and innovation; economic transformation, growth and industrialization; the modernization of agriculture; connecting Africa through world-class infrastructure; introduce an African passport,….. and silence the guns by 2020! There are at least seventeen action points and eight enablers that include “African resources to finance its development” and “Accountable leadership and responsive institutions.”

There are no measurable indicators of progress. Just the prescriptions and expected outcomes. The meeting in Pretoria could have debated this but that would be missing the point. The vision is there and the ingredients for Africa’s transformation have been identified.

What does media have to do with all of this? Well, if the story does not go out on all the media platforms and regularly enough, how in the world will the building blocks of the Africa we want get to you?

Role of the media in enhancing accountability on women, peace and security commitments in Africa





“Role of the media in enhancing accountability on women, peace and security commitments in Africa”

Madam Chair, Members of the Council, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

We, media practioners from different parts of Africa, including Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda, representing the breadth of media, including private and public local radio, print, broadcast, and new media, gathered on the 18th to 19th October 2016 in Addis Ababa;

Under the auspices of the Office of the Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with UN Women, we convened to discuss Gender-Responsive Reporting in Conflict, Post-Conflict, and Fragile Settings.

We recognize the continued commitment of the AU to mainstream gender into all the work of the PSC, to ‘Silence the Guns’ by 2020, and the aspirations embedded in Agenda 2063;

Note the designation of 2016 as the “Year of Human Rights, with a Particular Focus on the Rights of Women”;

Appreciate the opportunity to address the African Union Peace and Security Council on issues of peace in general and the ‘Role of the media in enhancing accountability on women, peace and security commitments in Africa’ in particular;

Stress the importance of an enabling environment for the media to play a positive role as agents of peace;

Note increasing pressure on freedom of expression and censorship efforts in many contexts-including on social media, and the need for access to information;

Express concern about the safety and security of media personnel across the continent, particularly that of women journalists.

Over the course of the two-day convening, we identified and discussed critical challenges facing gender-responsive media on the continent. These include the underrepresentation of affected women’s voices, expertise, and women covering issues of peace and security; the continued stigmatization of women and stereotypical portrayal of women in conflict reporting; lack of women in leadership and editorial decision-making positions within media organizations; and ethical considerations that come with reporting of conflict and engaging with survivors of violence;

We recognize that the media has a critical role to play in pushing a progressive agenda on women, peace, and security by engaging in gender aware coverage of peace and security issues;

Understand the need to formulate new narratives when telling African stories on women peace and security by documenting the diversity of women’s stories, telling not just stories of victimhood but also stories of leadership, peacebuilding, and positive agents for social change;

Commit to adhering to ethical principles, such as do no harm and prevention of secondary victimization of women who have already suffered, and actively seeking the voices of those who are not normally heard;

Also commit to working through this nascent network of reporters for women, peace, and security to promote gender responsive reporting; to push for justice, and broader accountability for women, peace, and security commitments; and raise awareness and sensitize citizens through our reporting.

In conclusion,

We call on the Council to ensure that Member States protect the safety of journalists;

We encourage the Council to maintain dialogue with the media, during their field missions as well as broader issue based engagement;

We call also on the Council to and the media in their oversight role in ensuring women’s greater participation during mediation processes, conflict prevention efforts, and post conflict reconstruction and recovery as well as their protection and the prevention of sexual and gender based violence.

We thank you.




Business forum seeks to promote Turkey-Africa co-operation


Nairobi, October 2016 — AMI will be joining an African media team for a weeklong visit to Turkey in November to attend an economic and business forum and hold discussions with government officials and private sector representatives.

The November 2-3 Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum is jointly organized by the African Union Commission, Turkey’s Ministry of Economy, the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) and Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM). According to Turkish ambassador Deniz Eke, it “will provide a unique platform for the business circles of Turkey and African countries to create a long lasting Cooperation”.

The media team’s itinerary will involve coverage of the two-day forum and meetings with officials at the ministries of Economy and of Foreign Affairs, General Directorate for Press and Information under the Office of the Prime Minister, Turkey’s official development cooperation agency, think tank SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research), Public Diplomacy Coordination Office under the Office of the Prime Minister, and private sector representatives.

The forum itself will combine business-to-business meetings with plenary discussions on, among other issues, Business in Africa: Opportunities & Challenges, and Financing African Investment Projects: Infrastructure, Transportation & Energy.

Two earlier forums – Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit (2008), and Turkey-Africa Partnership (2014) – defined the parameters of co-operation complete with an Implementation Plan.






Unravelling the blue economy


Port Sudan, October 2016 – Stakeholders in the African maritime industry are coming together for five days in November to explore port strategies for harnessing the African blue economy and investment opportunities.

The organizers of the November 27-December 1 Ports Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa conference, to be held at Port Sudan in Sudan, are promoting it as a landmark maritime event in the region. It follows a similar one held last year in Nairobi, Kenya.

For a brief moment during the technical discussions, delegates will focus on the media and its role in harnessing the blue economy. This is a noticeable inclusion, which was missing in the Nairobi event, and the discussion will be led by the chief executive officer of the African Media Initiative, Eric Chinje.

“I am very excited about this conference because, at long last, the industry seems to have realised the missing link in its efforts to position the maritime sector as a key driver of economic growth,” Chinje told AMI staff when he received the invitation. “That missing link,” he added, “is the media, and I shall demonstrate that crucial detail at the Port Sudan conference.”





The big question: Is there a better way of reporting migration?

Nairobi, October 2016 — The German Foreign Office is sponsoring a conference in Nairobi on media coverage of migration. The event will also be used to launch the results of a comparative analysis of media coverage of migration issues in 12 African and European countries.

The November 28-29 conference will serve “to present a new African-European project in the field of journalism education: Journalism in a Global Context, according to its organizers, African Media Initiative, Africa Positive e.V., and Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism TU Dortmund University, Germany.

Discussions will focus on, among other issues, Migration and the Role of the African Media; Problems in African Media of Covering Migration; and Journalism Education – Key to Better Migration Coverage.

Among the scheduled speakers is Eric Chinje, AMI’s chief executive office, who will deliver the keynote address on Migration and the Role of the African Media. The other listed speakers are:

  • Dr. Susanne Fengler, Director, Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, TU Dortmund University.
  • Veye Tatah, Chairwoman and Chief Editor, Africa Positive
  • Dr. Markus Behmer, Institute for Communication, University Bamberg.

Media coverage of migration around the world has raised concerns around issues of factual accuracy, biased or insensitive reporting, loaded language and generalizations. Last month, the Ethical Journalism Network launched what it called New guidelines for migration reporting. The Network’s board member, Chris Elliot, who helped develop the guidelines, is quoted on EJN’s site as saying: “Never has there been a greater need for fair, cool and measured reporting of the issues of migration. These five basic principles form a simple set of guidelines for reporters around the world.”

The guidelines

  1. Facts not bias: Are we accurate and have we been impartial, inclusive and fact-based in our reporting?
  2. Know the law: Asylum seeker? Economic migrant? Refugee? Victim of trafficking? Do we understand the terms and communicate the national and international legal rights of immigrants to our audience?
  3. Show humanity: Humanity is at the essence of ethical journalism. But we must keep our emotions in check, avoid victimization, oversimplification and framing of coverage in a narrow humanitarian context that takes no account of the bigger picture.
  4. Speak for all: Do we have migrant voices? Are we listening to the communities they are passing through or joining? Question who representative self-appointed community and migrant spokespeople really are.
  5. Challenge hate: Have we avoided extremism? Have we taken the time to judge whether inflammatory content about migrants or those who seek to limit migration can lead to hatred? Words like “swarms” “floods” and “waves” should be treated with caution, as should indiscriminate use of “racism” and “xenophobia”.


















Network of reporters on women, peace and security takes shape


Addis Ababa, October 2016 – The African Union Commission (AUC) Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and UN Women have launched a network of reporters on women, peace and security. This was one of the outcomes of a two-day capacity building workshop on gender-responsive reporting in conflict, post-conflict and fragile settings in Africa.

The workshop, which started on October 18, brought together more than 20 editors, journalists and bloggers, women and men from newspapers, radio, television, and social media who cover conflict-affected countries and regions in Africa. Participants came from Burundi, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda.

A minute of silence was observed for the late Ambassador Fatoumata Siré Diakité, a renowned Malian woman who dedicated her life protecting women and girls from all forms of gender-based violence.

“We want you to be part of our voices in peacekeeping and peace building. Be agents for change and bring visibility to issues of women’s participation in peace processes and conflict resolutions.” H.E. Mme Bineta Diop, Special Envoy of the AUC Chairperson on Women, Peace and Security, told reporters as she launched the workshop.

“The media can create awareness on existing commitments, frameworks as well as gender inequalities. It can bring people together, offer alternatives to violence. It can hold states accountable for commitments. By moving beyond the traditional portrayal of women as victims, the media can change perceptions on women’s participation and leadership and bring stories of women’s activities in conflict prevention and peacebuilding to the fore.” Ms Letty, Chiwara, the UN’s Women Representative to Ethiopia, the AU and the UNECA, noted in her opening remarks.

“War and conflicts attract a lot of media attention. However, much of the focus is put on power politics and ego struggles […]. What our people trapped in conflicts need from leaders is attention to human security issues that affect lives. They need a restoration of peace for efforts to be directed towards the building of schools, hospitals, ensure food security and conducive environments for active citizenship.” Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe stated, on behalf of the AUC Chairperson, H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma.

The African Union declared 2016 “Year of Human rights, with particular focus on women’s rights”. This initiative, which recognizes media as a key partner in advancing the women, peace and security agenda, seeks to empower journalists to respect the dignity of women and recognize women’s contributions to social cohesion and lasting peace in their communities. It will be followed by an AU Peace and Security Council open session on the, “Role of the Media in Enhancing Accountability on Women, Peace, and Security Commitments in Africa.”


Getting a fix on the right data

Nairobi, October 2016 – A Kenyan research company that partners with AMI in capacity building in the media, is conducting a survey on data availability and what stakeholders need to get their jobs done in order for the continent to achieve its ambitious goals.

The Local Development Research Institute (LDRI) says: “It is necessary for all stakeholders to have access to the data they need . . . Therefore, LDRI and its partners are conducting a survey of the kinds of data that are available versus the data stakeholders need in order to better inform data dissemination efforts in support of the Malabo Declaration.
The survey has been initiated in the context of Africa’s pursuit of “an ambitious agricultural transformation agenda guided by the Malabo Declaration”. A statement from LDRI refers to resilience as one of the focus areas for successful implementation of the Malabo commitments under the CAADP program.
The questionnaire at the link below is part of the survey. The resulting report shall be used to support efforts of both governments and non-state institutions across Africa to make data for agricultural transformation and resilience available to all.


Participants will receive an advance copy of the report as well as advance invitations to the launch in early 2017.

For more information contact Wangui Muriu wangui@developlocal.org

About LDRI

LDRI is a pan-African focused think tank working to building the capacity of both state and non-state actors in addressing the challenges that could prevent us from ending hunger, extreme poverty and inequality in Africa.

You can find out more about LDRI at www.developlocal.org





New dates for Reporting Africa conference

Nairobi, October 2016 — The Board and Management of the African Media Initiative (AMI) made a major decision this year to rearrange the organization’s annual calendar in order to create additional space to focus on the expanding range and diversity of media leaders’ concerns and discussions.

One outcome of this was that the African Media Leaders Forum, our flagship event, would now be held every other year, alternating with a major conference on a theme to be determined by media leaders. The theme we settled on for the inaugural conference this year was Reporting Africa (how media covers the continent).

The conference, originally scheduled for November 10-11 in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has been postponed due to unavoidable circumstances and will now be held on December 8-9 along with the Zimeo Excellence in Media Awards ceremony. Entries to the journalism competition have been overwhelming but the initial screening process is now complete.

We will continue to provide updates as the conference date approaches.