Introducing the MIL INDEX Study | #mediadev | DW | 22.10.2020
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Introducing the MIL INDEX Study

It is DW Akademie’s largest scale Media and Information Literacy (MIL) study to date. What are its aims, methods and approach? This overview provides details on the guiding principles of the MIL INDEX study.

Media and Information Literacy model graphic depicting the dimensions act access create analyze and reflect

The study is guided by DW Akademie’s MIL model and its five dimensions

Under 35-year-olds make up 77 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa. The African MIL INDEX study assesses the level of Media and Information Literacy in this important age group in six African countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Uganda. It is based on a mixed methods design and was conducted by DW Akademie 2018 to 2020.

Aims of the Study

The aims of the study are threefold: 

  1. There is a distinct lack of information on the status quo of Media and Information Literacy among African youth. Some studies exist specifically for ICT-related topics and general media usage of 15- to 35-year-olds. But the MIL INDEX study aims to highlight the challenges facing young people in the new digital and media environment they have to navigate on a day-to-day basis. The specific target group here is MIL practitioners in the six countries mentioned above who can use the insights gained from the study to inform their own MIL tuition and to advocate for more support from governments and donors. 
  2. Instruments for researching / measuring Media and Information Literacy are also sorely lacking in media development initiatives. This study introduces the MIL INDEX methodology to a wider audience, enabling other organizations and researchers to draw on the experiences provided to conduct their own needs assessments and evaluations.
  3. The insights from the study also serve to inform DW Akademie's country teams for their work on the ground. In fact, the six countries for the African MIL INDEX were chosen because they are DW Akademie’s focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  

Methods and Approach

For the purposes of the study, Media and Information Literacy was defined according to the five dimensions as laid out in DW Akademie’s MIL model: 

  • Access refers to the reception of media messages and knowing where to find which information.
  • Analysis is about being able to interpret and critically evaluate media messages, based on one's own media knowledge.
  • Reflection entails a critical self-examination of what type of information sources are used and what impact certain forms of communication can have.
  • Creation refers to being able to create and compose messages to express ideas or opinions and to share information.
  • Action stands for putting one’s MIL skills into practice for the benefit of the community, but also for the benefit of the individual. 

Eight focus groups were conducted in each of the six countries mentioned above to explore how young Africans access, analyze, reflect on, create and engage with media and digital information sources. The mixed-gender focus groups with 15- to 35-year-olds took place in an urban setting and a peri-urban / rural setting and were also differentiated according to age. Each focus group had eight to twelve participants.

Additionally, eight key informant interviews were conducted in each of the countries to find out how experts assess them in terms of Media and Information Literacy. The interviewees stemmed from one of four domains of expertise: media, youth, education, and MIL. In total, 45 experts were interviewed for the study. 421 youths from across Africa took part in the focus  groups for this study.  

In three countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana and Kenya) representative surveys were conducted amongst 15-to-25-year-olds with samples of at least 1.200 respondents. Almost 4.000 young people took part in the surveys. The surveys were based on multi-stage random samples. The survey data of these countries was used to calculate a quantitative index: For each of the five MIL dimensions mentioned above, survey respondents received a score ranging between 0 (= no skills whatsoever) and 20 (= highest level of skills) points, adding up to a maximum of 100 points. The scoring system measured how often certain skills are actually put into practice (access, creation, action) or tests the skills directly (analysis, reflection). 


For the specific results of the study, please consult the country reports in this MIL INDEX Dossier. Overall, the results illustrate that digital transformation is taking hold on the African continent, especially in urban settings – and yet it is a two-tiered transformation. While roughly two thirds of 15-to-25-year-olds in countries like Ghana and Kenya access the Internet on a weekly basis, this only holds true for around one third of Burkina Faso's youth. 
Africa's youth is challenged by this new media and information environment. Many experience disinformation, cyberbullying or hate speech on a daily basis. In Uganda, for instance, sexual harassment online has reached alarming proportions. And in Burkina Faso, youth do not feel represented in the media, tend to hold their voice back and withdraw into the private sphere. These findings hold important implications for MIL activities as well as policy considerations when it comes to youth and media.


The African MIL INDEX study was made possible by funding from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The study profited from consultancy and services by JFF – Institute für Media Research and Media Education, Leibniz-Institut for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut, as well as market researchers Infinite Insights, Nielsen Media and IMMAR.  

Our gratitude is also due to the many experts who were interviewed for the study:

For Uganda:

Sharon Akidi
Gerald Businge 
Sensa Amba Gonza
Prossy Kawala
Abaas Mpindi
Wabwire Wa Waheire

For Namibia:

Jean-Pierre Ilboudo
Farah Isaacs
Frederico Links
Gwen Lister
Olga Maartens
John Nakuta
Dr. Shihomeka Sadrag Panduleni
Tanswell Rooinasie

For Kenya:

Wallace Gichunge
Purity Jebor
John Kimotho
Chris Mukasa
Caren Namalenya
Anthony Ngare
Dr. Levi Obonyo
Dr. Duncan Omanga

For Ghana:

Awo Aidam Amenyah
Kwaku Krobea Asante
Fiifi Fawoma Aubbin
Obaa Akua Konadu
Jerry Sam
Etse Sikanku
Dr. Abena A. Yeboah-Banin

For Côte d'Ivoire:

Francis Akindés
Etienne Bosson
Cécile Coulibaly
Anderson Diedri
Yannick Djanhoun
Nesmonde de Laure
Antoine Mian
Souleymane Oulai

For Burkina Faso:

Abdoul Moumine Dialla
Abdoulaye Diallo
Cyrille Guel
Gandema Winde Issa  
Boureima Salouka
Dennis Vincenti

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