Guest Contributor | Jan 17, 2023 | 0
Local media environment remains free to a larger extent – Report
The Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung Namibia Office (FES) together with the FES regional media project, fesmedia Africa, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) recently launched the Namibia 2022 African Media Barometer (AMB) Report in Windhoek.
The Namibia AMB Report shows that Namibia’s media environment remains free to a larger extent, however, the significant decline in the quantitative scores, especially in Sector One (2.4) of the 2022 AMB compared to the 2018 AMB (3.1) indicates a downward trajectory in key indicators.
The launch was highly anticipated by the media, civil society, and other stakeholders due to the thought-provoking and often highly engaging results.
The report maintains that Namibia remains a leading example of press freedom in Africa and in the world although, there is room for improvement. It highlights the passing of the Access to Information Bill by the National Assembly as a positive development in Namibia’s media landscape and states that the Bill is progressive as it will facilitate the public’s access to information held by public and relevant private bodies. It also commends the increasing plurality in the media in Namibia and the formation of the Namibia Media Professionals Union (NAMPU) to address matters related to working conditions and the safety of journalists.
In addition, the report also extols the increasing editorial independence in the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the granting of permanent employment to its former contract workers.
The report also identifies some concerning developments and areas that the panelists felt the need to be addressed for Namibia to retain its top position as the country with the freest press in Africa. The increased harassment of journalists and civil society by state agencies was highlighted as a major concern for the media.
The panelists were of the opinion that the Cybercrime Bill and the mandatory registration of SIM cards may be used to block internet content. Related to the foregoing, State surveillance of journalists and civil society was mentioned as a worrying development.
The other negative development noted in the report was the NBC strike and continuing economic woes at the public broadcaster.
The report presents an opportunity for all stakeholders, including government actors to engage in dialogue and collectively come up with interventions to preserve the gains in press freedom and access to information that have been seen in the past and tackle the emerging challenges identified.
FES and fesmedia Africa stand ready to support all stakeholders and provide platforms for constructive debate and engagement on the key issues and recommendations. Therefore, we invite those interested in discussions on the subject to first read the report carefully and contribute to the online and offline dialogue via our AMB blog and other platforms to be set up in partnership with relevant stakeholders.
The AMB’s reputation as a trusted and time-tested analysis and measurement tool for media landscapes in Sub-Saharan African countries remains intact. For close to two decades, the AMB has been lauded as a robust tool with trusted results and recommendations that have been used to improve media environments and democracies in a number of countries.
The AMB is trusted because the report is compiled from discussions by a panel of local media experts and civil society actors, including at least one with a legal background.
To safeguard the exceptionally high quality, integrity, and reputation of the AMB both locally and regionally, fesmedia Africa has commissioned a fact-check by Namibia Fact Check to examine the three points that were reported as factual errors in the media following the launch of the report. The findings of the fact-check will be shared with the public, once the process has been concluded.
The Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) is a non-profit German foundation funded by Germany and headquartered in Bonn and Berlin.