Between February 21 and 23, 2024, the International Press Institute (IPI) shared its expertise on press freedom monitoring, journalist safety, and access to information with the second cohort of African Union Media Fellows in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The African Union Media Fellowship (AUMF) is a program that aims to empower African media professionals, journalists, and content creators to promote development-focused stories using emerging technologies. IPI was represented by its Africa Advocacy and Partnerships Lead, Nompilo Simanje. Twenty participants representing 20 countries across Africa were part of the training sessions. 

As part of AUMF’s training on election coverage, IPI drew on its experience monitoring and documenting press freedom threats and violations as part of IPI’s Africa program to present on the safety and security of journalists covering elections. This presentation included sharing insights from IPI’s monitoring of recent elections in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and the DRC. 

IPI also relied on its resources from its OnTheLine project to equip fellows with information on navigating targeted digital attacks such as doxing and online harassment. 

The election-related training is especially timely given that 2024 is the “year of democracy” due to numerous elections taking place globally and in Africa, including Senegal, Ghana, and South Africa, among others. IPI’s monitoring has documented increased attacks on the press around elections which include physical attacks, restrictions on access to information, and internet shutdowns, among others. 

On access to information, the training focused on regional and international frameworks protecting this fundamental right as well as an assessment of whether national laws adhere to these standards. Drawing from IPI’s monitoring experience, this session also explored cases that highlighted the linkages and complexities of access to information and the safety and security of journalists as well as access to information and the right to privacy. 

In 2023, IPI published resource toolkits on the national, regional, and international frameworks for press freedom which can be utilized to hold states accountable for their role in promoting media freedom and access to information. Toolkits published so far focus on Africa broadly, Zimbabwe, and Senegal.

“IPI remains committed to sharing its experiences and resources toward improving the state of media freedom and freedom of expression in Africa and collaborating with various stakeholders at national regional and international levels to hold states to account”, said Nompilo Simanje, IPI’s Africa Advocacy and Partnerships Lead. 

Other partners who supported this initiative included the European Delegation to the African Union, the UNESCO Liaison Office in Addis Ababa, the African Union Deputy Chairperson, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa. and Mme Botho Kebabonye, the Director of the AU Office of Strategic Planning and Delivery.