Namibia, located in the South-West of Africa, emerged the best in Africa in terms of freedom given to the Press to perform its duties. Cape Verde is second on the rankings and Ghana is in third.
Namibia, located in the South-West of Africa, emerged the best in Africa in terms of freedom given to the Press to perform its duties. According to the data published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Cape Verde and Ghana rank second and third respectively.
Press freedom also known as freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through various mediums including published material and electronic media, without governmental restriction or censorship.
Breakdown & key metrics
According to the survey data, the Press Freedom Index (PFI) measures the freedom available to the Press. A country with a PFI closer to 0, signifies that the press has a lot more freedom compared to a country with a PFI closer to 100. Also, the Press Freedom Index score can be sub-divided into five; good (0 - 15 points), satisfactory (15.01 - 25 points), problematic (25.01 - 35 points), difficult (35.01 - 55 points) and very serious (55.01 - 100 points).
The survey shows that in 2021, Namibia ranked #1 in Africa with a Press Freedom Index rating of 19.7, Cape Verde and Ghana had Press Freedom Index scores of 20.1 and 21.3 respectively to rank second and third on the list. South Africa is not far off in fourth with a Press Freedom Index of 21.6; Burkina Faso and Botswana are almost at par with Press Freedom Index scores of 23.1 and 23.3 respectively.
Freedom available to journalists is determined by collating all the responses given by experts to questions devised by the RSF. The index measures media freedom as a function of pluralism (the degree of which opinions get represented in the media), media independence, environment and censorship, legislative framework (quality of governance of news and information activities), transparency, media infrastructure and journalist safety (level of abuse and violence) in each country.
According to RSF figures, 102 journalists lost their lives in the continent over the past 10 years with half of the killings occurring in Somalia. Journalist continue to lose their lives in Africa and the killers go unpunished.
Eritrea has the worst Press Freedom Index of all the countries in the African continent, and globally, in 2021 with a score of 81.45.
The biggest Economies in Africa are lagging
Two out of Africa’s eight biggest economies made it into the top five of the Press Freedom Index with the remaining six under-performing.
Out of the remaining six, Ethiopia is the highest ranked country with the 24th best PFI score of 33.63 followed by Kenya with the 25th best PFI score of 33.65. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, ranks 33rd in Africa with a PFI score of 39.69. Morocco and Algeria rank as having the 40th and 43rd best PFI score of 43.94 and 47.26 respectively.
Press freedom has historically been a contentious issue in many African countries . Since its inception in 2013, many African countries have struggled to climb up the ranks. Despite improvements by some countries in terms of press freedom, the average score in Africa has remained sub-optimal.
Several factors continue to undermine press freedom in Africa including emergency measures and oppressive laws, arbitrary arrests of journalists, sanctions of media organizations, threats and intimidation among others.