There has in 2020 also been a number of very striking Covid-19-related stories such as the undercover reporting of Anas Aremeyaw Anas that showed health officials selling Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) out of Ghanaian hospitals, and NBC of Uganda’s work on politicians who splurged Covid-19 emergency funds on themselves.
It is clear from these few examples that there is a great deal of very interesting, ground-breaking and valuable work being done across the continent. The material mentioned above is only a small sample of this work.
Investigative journalism hubs in Africa and obstacles to further work
The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) has 17 member associations in Africa from 11 countries (10% of their global membership of 180), an indication that there are some countries where investigative journalism is alive and kicking, and others where lack of resources and repression have proven to be great hindrances.
Wits Journalism, partnering with the international NGO Civicus and Victor Bwire in Kenya as the principal researcher, is currently undertaking research into investigative journalism hubs in sub-Saharan Africa to see where interesting work is being undertaken. We have identified 51 such ‘hubs’ in sub-Saharan from initial analysis of the data collected so far; that is an average of almost one per country. The majority are in three countries, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya; but there is also notable activity, for example, in Ghana, and bursts of activity in places like Mozambique and Malawi. There are other countries, however, where journalists are finding it very difficult to get going.
Two issues emerge when we enquired about the biggest hurdles to the work of investigative journalists. Government repression is one of them, along with harassment generally by officials or others. That is no surprise. But the most frequently mentioned issue is the lack of resources and too much reliance on grant funding. In many African countries there are dedicated individuals or groups eager and able to do the work, but who don’t have the necessary resources. This factor is cited again and again.