The united states, the champions of democracy and freedom of expression in the globe, has been topped by six African countries in the 2019 freedom of press index released by Reporters Without Borders.
Press freedom is the principle that communication and expression through various media should be considered a right to be exercised freely. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Freedom of press index
The freedom of press index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders based upon the organization’s own assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year. Its objective is to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom.
6 African countries top the US and 4 top the United Kingdom
The United States, the champion of democracy and freedom of expression around the globe has been topped by six African countries in the 2019 freedom of press index released by Reporters Without Borders. This might come as a surprise to many, since most people believe press freedom is non-existent in Africa. The countries ahead of the United states are Namibia, Cape Verde, Ghana, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Botswana in that order. Similarly, the United Kingdom was topped by the first four mentioned African countries.
Enabling press freedom in order to reap its benefits
Press freedom can only be achieved via access to truthful and impartial information. The sources of such information can come from various voices across the entire community.
However, for freedom of expression to be achieved, several factors must be present. Firstly, there must be a legal and regulatory setting that permits for an open and diverse media sector to develop. Secondly, there should be a political will to support the sector and strong institutions to protect it. Finally, laws that uphold access to information in the public domain should be enforced.
Press freedom is the cornerstone of good governance in democracies across the world. In addition, press freedom has several benefits to countries. Foremost, It guarantees openness, accountability and the rule of law. Moreover, it encourages participation in public issues and contribute to the fight against poverty.
Press freedom has positive effects in africa
The achievement of these African countries demonstrates that the entire African continent could achieve excellent democracies and press freedom given the right leadership. Above all, there are evidence of strong correlation between press freedom and HDI performance. For instance, the African countries with the best freedom of press performances were also the most stable and have the highest HDIs in the continent. Likewise, their economies are also among the best performing in the continent.
A Lesson for young democracies and dictatorships
This news should serve as a lesson to young democracies across the continent to maintain press freedom for greater prosperity and development. On the other hand, Africans should avoid electing dictators as presidents. In this vein, all current dictators should be voted out to allow democracy and press freedom to reign throughout the continent. Finally, we implore on the AU and other relevant bodies to sanction dictatorship regimes in Africa till they significantly improve their press freedom.