SLENA is a semi-autonomous agency created by an act of Parliament and headed by a Managing Director.  It was established in the early 1980s with the aim of increasing access to information with the use of modern communications device and techniques.  The institution, at its inception,  was determined to develop free and pluralistic media, aimed at promoting democracy and the development of the News Agency across Africa.
SLENA used to function as a news wire service by gathering and selling information to deserving organisations, i.e international organisations such as Associated Press (AP), United Press International Agency (UPIA), France Press (FP) and Reuters.  SLENA also supplied news to the Pan African News Agency (PANA) to enable the latter to disseminate news and information aimed at correcting what was then perceived as biases, inbalances and distortions prevalent in the Western Media against Africa.