NAMIBIA (26th), which has yet to adopt a promised law on access to information, has surrendered the title of the best-ranked African country to Ghana (23rd), Reporters Without Borders announced yesterday.
The watch group announced that although Namibia's Constitution guarantees free speech and protects journalists, the lack of a freedom of information law continues to obstruct their work.
"Those who dare to criticise the authorities are often the target of government threats and seek a refuge on the internet, where they are not subject to control. At the same time, self-censorship is common in the state-owned media," the group said.
It said public order and security legislation is often used to restrict the freedom to inform, while journalists are sometimes the targets of insults or attacks by political parties.
"Pro-government media receive a large chunk of their revenue available from advertising, which threatens the financial prospects of the privately owned media and independent news coverage."
The drop is a blow to the country but has been coming in the last three years.
In 2016, Namibia was ranked 17th in the world and number one in Africa but dropped to 24th in the world last year, while Ghana was second in Africa for 2016 and 2017.
Sub-Saharan Africa has maintained its third place in the ranking by region, with a slightly better overall indicator this year than in 2017.
"But there is a wide range of situations within the region, and journalists are often the victims of intimidation, physical violence, and arrest."
At the other end of the Index, Africa still has many news and information black holes.
Press freedom is non-existent in Eritrea (second from last at 179th), Djibouti (173rd), Burundi (159th) and Somalia (168th), where four journalists were killed in terrorist attacks in 2017.