The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) is a continental network of some of the most influential freedom of expression and media rights organisations in Africa. All AFEX member organisations are also members of the Toronto-based global free expression network, IFEX. Through the collective engagement and commitment of its members, AFEX’s vision is to have “an Africa where all peoples are free to express themselves.”
Despite the benefits and opportunities that the Internet presents, many governments in Africa tend to control cyberspace by adopting laws, policies, and practices that seek to limit the freedoms that people enjoy online.
Established in December 2013, AFEX seeks to promote freedom of expression (offline and online) and human rights on the continent through advocacy, campaigns, and capacity-building to ensure the effectiveness of its members and other free expression groups on the continent.
AFEX’s freedom of expression (FOE) and access to information advocacy work is evidence-based. It involves the monitoring and reporting of FOE violations and developments, which also covers aspects of freedom of assembly and association rights. AFEX also prepares issue-specific statements, organises petitions and campaigns, and undertakes fact-finding missions.
AFEX has implemented a number of projects on thematic issues such as safety of journalists and impunity for crimes against journalists, Internet/digital rights advocacy, and access to information – aimed at improving the overall FOE and access to information environment in Africa.
AFEX has successfully brought pressure to bear on governments and other stakeholders in several countries across the region that has resulted in the release of jailed journalists, restoration of Internet access, and the re-opening of media organisations that had been shut down.
The network has also been conducting fact-finding missions in some African countries, including Somalia and South Sudan, which need systematic attention regarding their human rights and freedom of expression situation.
AFEX publishes various reports which reflect on the outcomes of its work and/or informs its advocacy efforts.
As part of its efforts to help counter the threat to internet freedom in Africa, in June 2018 AFEX released its maiden “Annual Report on the State of Internet Freedom in Africa” which tracks incidents and developments recorded in 12 African countries in 2017. The findings of the report show that governments in Africa are increasingly adopting laws, policies, and practices aimed at restricting freedoms in the cyberspace.
In December 2017, AFEX launched its first Internet Freedom in Africa Report at the sixth African Internet Governance Forum in Egypt. The report provides an overview of the Internet landscape in eight selected African countries, and identifies issues such as high cost of data, network disruptions, and the use of repressive laws to stifle online expression as the major challenges in the countries under review.
The periodic Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa Report seeks to monitor and report on FOE violations (including violations against freedom of assembly and association) and other developments in Africa for the timely intervention by appropriate stakeholders. It highlights FOE developments recorded in various countries with recommendations to state and non-state actors in support of protecting the press freedom landscape.
AFEX members and other FOE organisations participate in periodic capacity-building and knowledge-sharing workshops to improve their capacity and effectiveness in executing AFEX’s mandate. Annually, AFEX members meet at an Annual General Meeting to share experiences, best practices, lessons learnt and recommendations for future work.
AFEX membership is open to all African free expression, media rights or human rights organisations. Any organisation that wishes to be part of the network will first have to be a member, or have the potential to become a member of IFEX. For non-IFEX members that express interest in becoming members, AFEX often collaborates and assists them to obtain membership of IFEX.
Address: AFEX Secretariat, c/o Media Foundation for West Africa, P O Box LG 730, Legon, Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 302 24 2470
This is the thirty-ninth NGO profile of my 2018 #NGOs4Africa Campaign.