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Misinformation Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa

A Policy Paper by Peter Cunliffe-Jones, Assane Diagne, Alan Finlay, Sahite Gaye, Wallace Gichunge, Chido Onumah, Cornia Pretorius and Anya Schiffrin, published by University of Westminster Press

Misinformation Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa is a single volume containing two research reports by eight authors examining policy towards misinformation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The volume first examines the teaching of ‘media literacy’ in state-run schools in seven Sub-Saharan African countries as of mid-2020, as relates to misinformation. It explains the limited elements of media and information literacy (MIL) that are included in the curricula in the seven countries studied and the elements of media literacy related to misinformation taught in schools in one province of South Africa since January 2020. The authors propose six fields of knowledge and skills specific to misinformation that are required in order to reduce students’ susceptibility to false and misleading claims. Identifying obstacles to the introduction and effective teaching of misinformation literacy, the authors make five recommendations for the promotion of misinformation literacy in schools, to reduce the harm misinformation causes.

The second report in the volume examines changes made to laws and regulations related to ‘false information’ in eleven countries across Sub-Saharan Africa 2016-2020 from Ethiopia to South Africa. By examining the terms of such laws against what is known of misinformation types, drivers and effects, it assesses the likely effects of punitive policies and those of more positive approaches that provide accountability in political debate by promoting access to accurate information and corrective speech. In contrast to the effects described for most recent regulations relating to misinformation, the report identifies ways in which legal and regulatory frameworks can be used to promote a healthier information environment.


Image: University of Westminster Press.


Peter Cunliffe-Jones


Peter Cunliffe-Jones worked as a foreign correspondent and editor of foreign news for the AFP news agency in Western Europe, the Balkans, west Africa and the Asia Pacific for 25 years from 1990-2015; serving as a correspondent in Bosnia and Croatia during the Balkan wars, Bureau Chief in Nigeria during the end of military rule in the country, Chief editor for Asia-Pacific overseeing coverage of the Asian Tsunami of 2004 from Hong Kong, and Stylebook editor and Head of Online News in London. In 2012, he set up Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, AfricaCheck.org, expanding it to four countries (South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya) and leading it until May 2019, making it a leader of the new international fact-checking movement. In 2016, he became the first chair of the advisory board for the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and in May 2019 was appointed IFCN’s senior adviser. His first book, “My Nigeria: Five decades of independent” published in 2010, was declared “a triumph” by the late Professor Chinua Achebe. He was a fellow of the Shuttleworth Foundation from 2016-2019.


9 June 2021
Published By
University of Westminster Press
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