MFWA engages ECOWAS on press freedom, media development in West Africa

As part of efforts to improve democratic governance in West Africa, the Media Foundation for West Africa, on May 10, 2023, conferred with the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) at the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musa, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Led by its board of directors, the meeting discussed how the media in the region can be supported and strengthened to play its role more effectively in consolidating peace, security and democracy in West Africa. Prominent among the issues highlighted were the resurgence of coup d’états in the region, the shrinking civic space, terrorism, constitutional reviews for presidential term elongation, and the growing trend of misinformation. Others were the general democratic backsliding and its impact on journalists, media development and press freedom and ECOWAS’s role in dealing with these challenges.

The MFWA’s board also highlighted the absence of a dedicated regional framework on Access to Information and Freedom of Expression as a huge challenge to freedom of expression, press freedom and open civic space in the region, adding that, this needs to be urgently addressed in order to provide more safeguards for free expression in West Africa.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau, commended the MFWA for its role in promoting freedom of expression, press freedom and media development across the region. He also reflected on how the MFWA and PAPS can work collaboratively to improve the media space within the strategic Civil Society engagement plan of the Commission and devise creative joint interventions to deepen peaceful and credible electoral processes in the region. Ambassador Abdel-Fatau also emphasised the need for the media in the region to contribute more effectively to reverse the democratic recession in the region and support the efforts of the ECOWAS Commission towards realizing the ECOWAS Vision 2050.

Both the MFWA and PAPs expressed commitment to working together to improve democratic governance in the region.

The visit to the ECOWAS Commission forms part of a series of bilateral advocacy meetings by the MFWA to discuss issues of press freedom, media development and how the media can support democratic consolidation in the region. The bilateral engagements are supported by the US-based National Endowment for Democracy.

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