AW Free Foundation was created by AfricaWeb to foster projects that support the development of free press on the web in Sub-Saharan Africa.
AfricaWeb has started different news platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa, like GhanaWeb.com, CamerounWeb.com, MyNigeria.com and TanzaniaWeb.com.
In Ghana, Ghanaweb.com is rich in history that spans over two decades since its conception in 1994. The portal has since grown despite its fair share of lawsuits in Europe based on true and validated stories published on the website.
The setbacks haven’t changed GhanaWeb’s stance of maintaining independence and offering Ghanaians an objective and balanced news media platform that’s devoid of censorship. About 4 million Ghanaians visit and interact on GhanaWeb every month with over 100 million page views every month. The website remains the most popular and most influential news platform in Ghana.
In 2014, the business expanded to Cameroon under the extension CameroonWeb.com. The portal was built on the same tenets of GhanaWeb with an element of bilingualism. CameroonWeb was published in both French and English when it was launched and journalists recruited in Cameroon managed the portal.
After two years, the market clearly swayed towards the French section of the website hence the need to collapse the English section to create the solely French CamerounWeb portal.
The portal has grown to become the most popular Cameroonian website ranked seventh after top sites like Google, YouTube, etc. Despite the Cameroonian government’s censorship and heavy attacks on the media. Its newsroom has been moved from the country to protect the journalists. In 2017, the website’s IP was blocked by the government of Cameroon for a period of 8 months. Reporters Without Borders among other international press organizations technically played a technical and mediation role that allows the website to operate in Cameroon again.
Between 2018 and 2021, 3 journalists of CamerounWeb have been attacked by security forces and suspected government operatives. In 2019, CameroonWeb’s website’s investigative journalist Paul Chouta was arrested and jailed for two years in Cameroon for opinions related to his work as a journalist. Paul was detained at the Kondengui maximum security prison alongside Boko Haram terrorists and Cameroonians secession leaders. Paul Chouta was jailed in May 2019 and held in pretrial detention for more than a year, after which his trial began but was repeatedly delayed. He was charged with criminal defamation and false news and appeared 23th times in court for a trial.
TanzaniaWeb was also born in 2017 publishing in Swahili. The country also faces censorship and the newsroom has equally been moved to a neighbouring country to protect the journalists after President John Magufuli’s government has adopted and enforced a raft of repressive laws that stifle independent journalism and severely restrict the activities of press organizations and the political opposition. The newsroom reopened in Dar-es-Salam in 2021 after the death of President Magufuli.
MyNigeria.com which was launched in October 2019 to serve the Nigerian population is the latest addition to the AfricaWeb family in Africa.
The AW Free Foundation is building successful partnerships to help make the dream of creating a robust online media in Africa and also supports small media and journalists across the continent for the democratization of information on the continent.
In the next five years, the foundation is expecting to build a safe haven for over 500 journalists in Africa, especially those under attack in Cameroon, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of the continent.