Shaping media & digital ecosystems

Guy Berger in front of a screen at World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa 2019
World Press Freedom Day, Addis Ababa, 2019


CommsPolicy.Africa is a site created by Guy Berger, independent expert and consultant in media and internet policy issues. From 2011 to 2022, he led UNESCO’s global work in these areas. With an African focus, the same topics featured in his work between 1994-2010 at Rhodes University, South Africa, where he is recognized as an emeritus professor.




Some say Africa’s comms problems aren’t due to poor policy, but bad implementation of basically good policy. That assessment tells us that much comms policy is a pipedream – or a form of political theatre.

But public policy that is worth its salt should anticipate and provide for practical problems. Else, it’s flawed at the core. Policy will inevitably be undermined by weak state capacity or partisan capture – if the genesis and design underestimates these factors.

It’s nowadays a cliché that designing good policy should be “evidence-based”. Yes, research – including into due diligence and impact-assessment on human rights about policy – is fundamental. At the same time, what makes for “evidence”? How do different assemblies of “facts” – and “significant data silences – get mobilized for specific narratives and agendas. What interests and actors work to shape policy – or policy charades, and for what purposes?

Policy, even unimplemented, is profoundly about power, and therefore political.  Contestation (even if often hidden) is endemic to the policy cycle – research, design, implementation (or stagnation), monitoring and review. And the results shape whether a society will enjoy or be deprived of:

  • Respect for people’s rights to free expression, with any restrictions (eg. on hate speech) being clearly justified and limited (and monitored and reviewed) in terms of standards set out in international human rights law.
  • Accountability of media and Internet platforms to effective codes of conduct which promote quality content rather than disinformation
  • Protection for journalists online and offline, and an end to impunity for attacks on them
  • Upholding privacy rights while also unlocking data for public interest,
  • Have real systems for ensuring that the communications landscape is pluralistic and inclusive, that journalists are equipped to cover AI, green energy, etc., and that the public is Media and Information Literate and cherishes freedom of expression, privacy and access to information.


This site’s policy perspectives are shaped by:

  • Berger’s decade as UNESCO’s director for freedom of expression and media development, where his remit spanned the spectrum of press freedom (on- and offline) and internet governance policy issues. 
  • Between 1994 and 2010, he headed up the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University. There he researched, taught and did extensive policy advocacy especially with an African focus.


  • More than 60 books/monographs and/or chapters in books, have been amongst Berger’s outputs (including overseeing more than 40 official UNESCO publications)
  • On more than 300 formal occasions, he has taken part as an expert speaker on CommsPolicy across a very wide range of countries.

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