Dakar, 30 October 2023 – This week the Forum on Information and Democracy joined hands with its partner AfricTivistes, a leading African NGO in Senegal and thought leader in Africa to strengthen the demand for and discourse around technology serving democracy. The two day seminar “Strengthening Senegalese democracy through the implementation of democratic safeguards in the information space” took place from 24-25 October and united more than 50 experts, researchers, journalists and civil society actors for two days of debates and exchange of best practices.
Democratic guarantees in the information space, the role of traditional and digital media in promoting democracy, the role of research, the fight against disinformation, media literacy, citizen participation, freedom of expression and the independence of media were among the topics discussed among this eminent group of civic leaders.
Experts presented international best practices, including the Forum’s principles for strengthening democracy and the information space with a focus on fighting disinformation and promoting reliable information. The Forum’s team also presented the recently launched International Observatory on Information and Democracy – the equivalent of the IPCC for the information space – which provides a robust scientific foundation for a common understanding of the structure of the information and communication space, its impact on democracy, and to inform more evidence-based policy decisions. Senegalese researchers and civil society can contribute to this effort, particularly in joining a Research Assessment Panel.
The discussions highlighted that access to an independent and reliable media landscape is crucial in a country such as Senegal where the majority of citizens consume news through traditional media. Yet, the independence of the media and their financing remains a challenge. In parallel, digital technologies are gaining in importance in shaping the Senegalese information space, which requires media literacy, fact-checking and regulatory approaches.
Participants underlined that democratic safeguards for the information space need to be developed and implemented to hold the different actors accountable and ensure access to a pluralist and reliable information.
The seminar concluded with the ceremony of the Media and Democracy Prize awarded this year to the Radio Sud FM by AfricTivistes. The prize aims to reward a Senegalese media that conducts investigative journalism with editorial independence and ethical values, and publishes quality content on a diversity of topics with the objective to promote democracy.