AU Watch

Media Development, Africa

“Journalism can never be silent: That is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.”

Henry Anatole Grunwald, Journalist and Diplomat

About Us

This is AU Watch’s monthly online and physical journal dedicated to the theory and practice of communication and media issues around Africa. We monitor and report on the work of the AU and its Member States, as they relate to media issues, and track the work of African media houses and journalists across print, online, and broadcast media.

It was Thomas Jefferson who said “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”A free Africa depends on our intelligence and our informed understanding of the issues. And strong, independent and plural media is the people’s intelligence agency – it underpins all everything, enabling people to participate in the debates and decisions that shape their lives.

We are committed to nurturing the highest ideals of journalism in Africa. We look out for journalists. We believe truthful, unbiassed and impartial journalism leads to better-informed societies. It holds power to account, strengthens the rule of law and contributes to economic and social development. AU Watch’s ‘Media Development, Africa’ seeks to strengthen the capacity of the African press and media at four, inter-related levels: audience, practitioner, organisation and the wider media system.

We particularly focus on the mandate and wok of the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and how it impacts the media landscape in Africa.

We monitor regional and global media across all channels, and our journalists and editors filter the noise so we only deliver what’s most relevant.

Print Media
We are Africa’s leading provider of Media Intelligence. Many media houses use insights from AU Watch media monitoring and media analysis to know what is happening in Africa. We are able to design and optimise PR and communication strategies for journalists under threats. We tailor our solution to fit your organisation’s needs and objectives so you can make better-informed decisions.

Broadcast
In the age of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and podcasts, it’s easy to consider traditional broadcast sources – TV and radio – as obsolete. Yet when news breaks, TV and radio remain the two most important sources of information. We monitor what dozens of broadcast houses are reporting about journalists.

Online and Social Media
We leverage social media listening tools to learn what your community is saying about the media and journalists in your area. Subscribe with us and increase brand affinity, reduce response times, and know and understand what happening in your backyard.

Regional and International Media
Our in-house journalists listen and read information from hundreds of regional and international media. We got your back covered as no information goes past us. If it happens you will know and if it’s about welfare of a journalists, we are the first to know about it. We will take action.

Films and Documentaries
Film remains the greatest medium for vividly reflecting the world we live in, unfortunately, we are witnessing the global retreat of democracy under an age of impunity. We go through hundreds of footages to bring you the most inspiring stories.

Persecuted Journalists
Across Africa many journalists are persecuted, attacked, imprisoned and murdered. We salute the courage and dedication of journalists struggling against risk and outright brutality to exercise their right to seek and tell the truth. This is your portal to inform us about persecuted journalists who are refusing to do states bidding.

Imagine that the free press disappeared and you got all your news from rumour and social media. Imagine that there was no way to find out who wields power, who profits, who tells the truth, and who lies. We came close to that this year, with fake news, warped news, timid news and confirmation-bias bubbles that offered reinforcement instead of challenge. But a free press – one that is independent and unfettered – is crucial to a free society.

The Guardian Newspaper

What We Do

  • We keep track of hundreds of print, broadcast and online and social media in real timeas they occur. We monitor the activities of regional media houses and journalists right across Africa.
  • We monitor activities and changes related to a range of AU institutions, practices, and behaviours including the rule of law, freedoms of expression and press, education systems for journalists, business environments, capacities of journalists and managers, as well as support for a diversity of views in society.
  • We publish informed and critical opinions on a broad range of media topics related to Africa’s media landscape; relevant documents and materials; reports of events and conferences; films and documentaries section on cinema and book reviews.
  • We campaign.We run campaigns for access to information. The right to information is an important tool for holding governments to accountable. For example, don’t you want to know how your taxes are spent or how an IMF loan is got and spent?
  • We also campaign against censorship, hate speech, privacy and surveillance. We campaign for media rights, safety of journalists and human rights defenders

At the heart of all our work are the Principles of accuracy, impartiality, independence and integrity.

Media Monitoring
Understand the stories and conversations that matter, as soon as they happen. At the heart of our work are the principles of accuracy, impartiality, independence and integrity!

How We Work

Collaboration & Partnerships: Collaboration is a key ingredient in the way we workworking with partners to make sure that a free press and media are is part of the acceptable practice of governance in Africa. We partner and collaborate with our various publics to get information, but also to host many of our events. Our collaborative endeavours also seek to achieve other objectives like safety of journalists, media freedom and access to information which are all fundamentalprinciples of a strong and flourishing independent media community.

Training: In partnership with AU Watch Judicial and Human Rights Department we provide hands-on training for journalists with a focus on techniques of staying safe.

For more information on our various training programs, please contact us.

Coaching &Mentoring: We provide mentoring support to budding journalists and human rights defenders who are journalists. 

For more information on our mentoring programs, please contact us.

E-Learning: We are the first organisation that is offering an interactive, flexible and easy to access eLearning content for young reporters. We collaborate with AU Watch Institute for AU studies to design and teach media and human rights courses related to the African Human Rights System. Students are able to learn at their own pace with our bite-sized micro modules of 30 sec to 15 min and traditional eLearning from 15 – 30 minutes.

For more information on our mentoring programs, please click here.

Events: Organising events are a major part of our work. We host dozens of media events every year from human rights workshops for journalists, off-the-shelf, tailored and client bespoke training interventions, to interviews with leading African personalities.

Research: How we all use, access and communicate information about the AU, its Membersand their programs have implications as to whether the vision of Agenda 2063 or even a united Africa is achievable. We conduct research into media freedom in Africa to inform policy, research and practice on the role of media. Here we share results of our research, conduct policy analysis with the objective that issues will be debated and interrogated.

COMING SOON: More of our research activities

Project grants: Funds for specific human rights investigations are available from time to time.

Please check back later.

Fellowships: Opportunities to undertake media research in Africa are availablefrom time to time. 

Please check back later.

AU Watch Defenders Awards: We coordinate AU Watch Defenders Award, celebrating those who are courageously making outstanding contributions to the promotion and protection of the human rights in Africa, often at great personal risk to themselves. For more information click here

Highlights

With the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in Africa, governments across the continent quickly imposed lockdowns to prevent the disease’s further spread. In many countries, these measures included blanket bans on movement, while others imposed social distancing. 

The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has warned coronavirus poses “an existential threat”for Africa

Open letter from African intellectuals to leaders over COVID-19. Prominent thinkers urge continent’s leaders to use coronavirus pandemic crisis as opportunity to spur ‘radical change’.In an open letter from African intellectuals to leaders over COVID-19 Prominent thinkers urge continent’s leaders to use coronavirus pandemic crisis as opportunity to spur ‘radical change’.

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AU Watch Defenders Awards. Read more

Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship. Read more

Support our trans-disciplinary centre of excellence for regional and international academic research, teaching and critical scholarship on the African Union. Read more

Support the NGO Forum on the (African) Summit of Heads of State and Government. Read more

Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information

The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression was established by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with the adoption of Resolution 71 at the 36th Ordinary Session held in Dakar, Senegal from 23rd November to 7th December 2004. The mandate calls for the Special Rapporteur to

  1. Analyse national media legislation, policies and practice within Member States;
  2. Monitor their compliance with freedom of expression standards and advise Member States accordingly;
  3. Undertake investigative missions to Member States where reports of massive violations of the right to freedom of expression are made and make appropriate recommendations to the African Commission;
  4. Undertake country missions and any other promotional activity that would strengthen the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression in Africa;
  5. Make public interventions where violations of the right of freedom of expression have been brought to his/her attention; keep a proper record of violations of the right of freedom of expression and publish this in his/her reports submitted to the African Commission; and
  6. Submit reports at each ordinary session of the African Commission on the status of the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression in Africa.

Key Regional Documents

• Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression In Africa
• 2002 Guidelines On Access To Information And Elections In Africa
• 2017 Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa
• 2019 Model Law On Access To Information For Africa 2013

• Official Launching Of The Model Law On Access To Information In Africa

• Press Release on the Publication of the Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa

Support Us

There are several ways in which you can help us ensure that journalism in Africa is free and independent.

  • Support a free press in Africa that journalists can report without fear or favour.Newsrooms should be free to make independent editorial decisions that favour public interest and preserve accountability.
  • A free and independent press is essential at all times.At a time when many seek information primarily online, the role of professional journalists, whom are trained to help sort through the flow and provide necessary guidance, is vital.
  • Sustainable development is hampered when citizens are denied access to accurate and reliable information.
  • Support journalists so that they are able to hold our states managers accountable.Help us promote critical thinking to limit the spread of rumours and misinformation.
  • AU Watch calls on African governments, media and civil society to join us in the regional campaign holding our governments accountable to the promises they have made to their citizens.

The Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa was adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 65th Ordinary Session which was held from 21 October to 10 November 2019 in Banjul, The Gambia. The Declaration was prepared pursuant to Article 45 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) which requires the African Commission to promote human and peoples’ rights, among others, by formulating and laying down principles and rules to solve legal problems relating to human and peoples’ right and fundamental freedoms upon which African States may base their legislation. The Declaration establishes or affirms the principles for anchoring the rights to freedom of expression and access to information in conformance with Article 9 of the African Charter which guarantees individuals the right to receive information as well as the right to express and disseminate information. The Declaration therefore forms part of the soft-law corpus of Article 9 norms developed by the African Commission, including the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa as well as the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa, adopted by the Commission, respectively, in 2013 and 2017.

This Declaration replaces the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa which the African Commission had adopted in 2002. The 2002 Declaration elaborated on the scope and content of Article 9 of the African Charter. Yet, over the last two decades, major pertinent issues emerged which were addressed insufficiently. This was notably the case in relation to access to information and the interface between Article 9 rights and the internet.