Misinformation Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Laws and Regulations to Media Literacy

African research/ MIRH/ 04 October 2022

By: Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI)

This policy brief, published by the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) at the University of Westminster, contains two research reports examining policy towards misinformation in sub-Saharan Africa.

The first research report, The State of Media Literacy in Sub-Saharan Africa 2020 and a Theory of Misinformation Literacy, focuses on Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda.


  • Media literacy is barely taught in the seven countries studied, and elements of misinformation literacy are present in only one.
  • Misinformation literacy is its own sub-type, distinct from both media literacy and even news literacy.
  • Misinformation literacy requires knowledge and skills in six fields particular to false information: Context, Creation, Content, Circulation, Consumption, and Consequences.
  • Studies suggest that these misinformation knowledge and skills will help individuals identify and dismiss false information.
  • Norm-setting by public figures, institutions, and changes from traditional and social media may also be vital to bring change in misinformation behaviour.

The second report, Bad Law: Legal and Regulatory Responses to Misinformation in Sub-Saharan Africa 2016-2020, looks into the nature and effects of changes made to laws and regulations related to “false information” between 2016 and 2020 in 11 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda.


The study found that over the five years, the number of laws and regulations in those countries related to “false information” nearly doubled from 17 to 31. However, the laws and regulations passed or amended showed little correlation with, or effect on, the drivers, types, and effects of misinformation in circulation. Although the changes made appeared to have actual or potential chilling effect on media and political debate in many of the countries studied, the effects of the legislation in reducing the harmful effects of misinformation was minimal, a tiny effect compared to the scale and nature of the problem. At the same time as nearly doubling the number of laws and regulations penalising publication of “false information”, officials and ministers across the continent made repeated calls for the teaching of media literacy – knowledge and skills that would enable young people to identify and reject misinformation.



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