DAKAR DECLARATION ON
INTERNET AND THE AFRICAN MEDIA
7-10 July 1997 the London-based Panos Institute and the Panafrican News
Agency organized a seminar entitled The Internet: An Opportunity for the
African Media?, held in Dakar (Senegal). The objectives of the seminar
were to provide information and sensitize African media about the
professional advantages and constraints in using the Internet. It also
aimed to provide a forum for exchanging experiences and lessons on using
the Internet in Africa, and to propose ways of overcoming obstacles to
African media in obtaining and using the technology.
50 people participated in the seminar from 19 countries in West, Central
and Southern Africa and from France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and
the United States. They included representatives of government,
non-governmental organizations, educational institutions and news
discussions addressed, among other themes, the Internet in Africa;
problems and prospects of African media and the Internet; and the
development and democratization of the Internet. Participants also
released the Dakar Declaration on the Internet and the African Media,
which is reproduced below.
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Declaration on the Internet and the African Media
the participants in the seminar held July 7-10, 1997 in Dakar, Senegal,
representing media organisations, non-governmental organisations and
educational institutions from 19 countries in West, Central and Southern
Africa, from Europe and the United States of America;
on other initiatives promoting information pluralism and freedom of the
press in Africa, such as the African Charter on Human and People’s
Rights and the Windhoek Declaration;
the role that new information and communication technologies can play in
creating pluralistic news sources to foster a climate favourable towards
democracy and development;
the various initiatives of the United Nations agencies and of the
international community to assist in the development of the Internet in
that economic, political and legislative constraints still hinder the use
of information technologies in Africa, but mindful of the rapid speed of
connectivity of both media and civil society organisations throughout the
the participants accordingly declare:
culture of online communications should be encouraged and Internet access
and use promoted.
and cooperation on joint projects between different organisations of
Internet users and regional groupings of such organisations should be
facilitated so as to ensure a significant African presence and African
content on the Internet.
projects on the developments of information technologies in Africa should
be launched in the perspective of providing information to media
organisations and academic institutions.
institutions should be encouraged and supported to include training on
information technology in their curriculums.
from the public-sector agencies of bilateral and multilateral
cooperation—as well as from the private sector—should be sensitized to
the critical impact that the Internet and other new information and
communication technologies can have on the social, economic and political
future of Africa.
should be called to support the implementation of projects based on the
use of the Internet and of other information and communication
technologies to promote democracy, social and economic development.
media organisations and non-governmental organisations should however
dedicate their own resources to such projects and be mindful not to be
solely dependent on outside funding.
following projects should be initiated as soon as possible:
electronic directory of African journalists;
guide to Internet use;
Africa-focused Internet search tool;
pilot project for exchange of digital audio files;
workshop on digital broadcasting in Africa;
African media web site;
discussion forums on African media issues;
Internet press centres in two poorly-connected countries;
award to encourage journalists to use the Internet to promote democratic
and progressist ideals.
Panos Institute and the Pan African News Agency (Pana) should identify
funding sources, assist in proposal development and implementation of the
above mentioned projects.
the participants call on African Governments to instill an environment
conducive to the rapid development of the Internet and other information
and communication technologies. We consider any absence of connectivity
not related to technical problems as hindrances to the development of
call on the African media, non-governmental organisations and all parties
interested in the plurality and freedom of press in Africa as well as on
the democratic development of Africa to lobby African governments on the
critical impact of the Internet and the necessity for supportive
legislation and fiscal policies.
support and encourage the emergence and development of the Internet in
Africa as a media free of government interference and control in the
context of a pluralistic and independent press.”
Voices from Africa no. 9