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Global Conference for Media Freedom: Summary of regional consultations in Francophone Sub‑Saharan Africa


Artificial intelligence, digital technology and freedom of the press

Participants noted that artificial intelligence (AI) is a reality that exists, although its arrival in Africa may not be as advanced as in other markets. They called upon African media to adapt. Automatic content creation can make existing viewpoints stronger (and discourage critical thinking) and, at its worst, may deepen divisions within society (including religious and ethnic divisions). This content also bolsters what is “buzz-worthy” instead of information.

In this context, participants noted the limits of AI and the ongoing need to ensure that professionals maintain oversight. Participants called upon journalists and media organizations to adapt to technologies and use them effectively, thus contributing to their responsible use. The growth of AI has revealed the first signs of threats to freedom of expression and human rights. Therefore, it is the responsibility of governments to regulate innovation in AI to some extent and to adapt the legal frameworks, including to protect personal data and privacy.

Internal issues regarding freedom of the press

Participants noted challenges relating to the limits of the media’s professionalism. With the return of a multi‑party system in Africa in the 1990s, and the return of laws governing freedom of the press, there is politicization of African media.

Private (and public) media have been manipulated for political and personal purposes, and various editorial boards have imposed their own internal restrictions on freedom of the press. The economic model also affects Africa, where the purchasing power of consumers is more limited, giving more power to private investors and advertisers. To this is added a lack of training and regulation of professional journalism, which leads to a drop in the quality of journalistic content and a lack of trust between information users and creators.

Participant suggestions

Participants recommended the following measures to encourage freedom of the press in Francophone sub‑Saharan Africa:

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