On 27 and 28 September 2023, the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, organised a two-day virtual seminar in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights’ Model Law on Access to Information for Africa. The Model Law was adopted on 13 February 2013, to provide legislative guidance for developing new and reviewing existing access to information laws in line with international best practices. It contains best practices and represents a harmonised approach to access to information throughout the continent and also serves as a basis for advocating for an enhanced access to information environment. The seminar provided a platform for ​​ exploring the status of access to information in Africa, including milestones and challenges.

It also provided an opportunity to consider recommendations that will enhance the realisation of the right of access to information on the continent. Other relevant instruments related to access to information in Africa, such as the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa and the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa also informed the discussions during the seminar.

The opening session was punctuated by the welcoming remarks from Lloyd Kuveya, the Assistant Director of the Centre for Human Rights and the keynote address by the current Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Hon Commissioner Ourveena Geereesha Topsy-Sonoo. In addition, Ms Viola Ochola provided insights into the Kenyan access to information implementation journey through the experience of the Commission on Administrative Justice. Maxwell Kadiri, of the Open Society Foundations, provided an overview of the status of access to information in Africa, citing the various experiences across the continent.

Lloyd Kuveya emphasized the pivotal role of the Model Law in promoting transparency and good governance across the continent. He hoped the seminar would spark further discussions among government officials, academics, researchers, and others, all with the goal of advancing access to information in Africa. In her address, Hon Commissioner Topsy-Sonoo highlighted that the Model Law was crafted with Africa's unique context in mind and was designed to serve as a benchmark for evaluating the compliance of African Union (AU) member states' information laws with the standards outlined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. She also indicated that the Model Law is an advocacy tool for the right to access information across the continent.  She also noted that since the Model Law's adoption in 2013, the number of African states with access to information laws has increased from five to 27, signifying commendable progress. However, she also admitted that this figure signifies that approximately half of the AU member states have yet to implement their own access to information laws and emphasised the need for concerted efforts to ensure that all AU member states enact access to information laws and effectively implement them.

The seminar featured six sessions over two days, each addressing various aspects of access to information in Africa. Experts and researchers from academic and research institutions; and civil society organizations such Article 19 Eastern Africa and Amnesty International, presented research their findings and insights. The sessions highlighted critical topics, such as the domestic impact of African Union human rights standards on access to information; challenges and opportunities in implementing access to information laws; the role of technology in promoting access to information; transparency and accountability in governance; misinformation and disinformation in the digital age; and best practices and case studies in access to information initiatives. The Centre plans to publish the research papers presented during the seminar, further contributing to the discourse on advancing access to information in Africa.

Overall, the seminar provided a platform for reflection, discussion, and collaboration to further advance access to information in Africa. As we celebrate a decade of progress, it is evident that much work remains to ensure that the right to access information becomes a reality for all Africans.

[Watch Webinar]

Seminar 1
Seminar 2

For more information, please contact:

Hlengiwe Dube
Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4197
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


 Subscribe to our newsletter