Africa Online Safety Fund announces grant winners

Issue 7 2023 News & Events, Information Security

The Africa Online Safety Fund (AOSF) has announced the winners of this year’s grants, among them five organisations operating in South Africa: The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change, City of Johannesburg Library and Information Services, Global Leading Light Initiatives, Media Monitoring Africa, and Wolfpack Information Risk.

The selection of the 22 winning organisations from seven countries was recently announced by Impact Amplifier (IA) from its headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa.

South Africa had five winners, followed by four each for Kenya and Ghana. Nigeria, with six winning grantees, had the highest number of awards. Cameroon, Somalia and Zimbabwe each had one winner. Although the winning organisations reflect seven countries, their internet safety interventions span 15 African countries.

Just over 350 applications were received in the 2023 cohort, from which a shortlist of 40 entries made it to the final selection process. Each of the eventual winners will receive grants ranging from $10 000 to $50 000, made possible with the support of Google.

Making the announcement, Impact Amplifier Director, Tanner Methvin, said, “With over 500 million people having access to the internet in Africa, reflecting just under 40% of the continent’s population, online safety issues are of critical concern.”

“The AOSF,” Methvin said, “supports innovative approaches to addressing the complex safety issues the internet presents. The winning innovative solutions range from unique ways of combating misinformation and disinformation; establishing investigative teams to track cyber criminals, supporting journalists targeted with hate speech and bullying, integrating online safety training into school curriculums, and much more.”

The AOSF offers grants to organisations throughout Africa that address one or more safety issues the internet facilitates. It focuses on four primary countries: Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa in this funding round.

There are three categories of funding: Transformative, Maturing and Catalytic. Transformative projects are intended to be larger in scale, reach multiple geographies and/or potentially large numbers of beneficiaries, and be scalable as a solution. The Maturing projects are intended to test ideas at a larger scale, try new ideas within existing projects, and reach new audiences. The Catalytic projects are intended to be smaller, targeted, and potentially only locally or culturally specific.

Transformative projects are a maximum grant of $50 000, Maturing projects up to $25 000, and Catalytic projects $10 000.

In addition to announcing the winners of the AOSF awards, Impact Amplifier, again with support from Google, is developing the first Africa-focused online safety research, education and support platform. Funding solutions to online safety since 2021, Impact Amplifier has realised that the only way to combat the scale of this challenge is by creating an ecosystem approach. Developing this ecosystem involves centralising some of the key tools needed for support.

To this end, it is developing an online platform that aggregates all the research on online safety in Africa, making this critical knowledge available to policymakers, civil society, academics, businesses and the general public.

Additionally, the platform will host educational materials to teach children and adults how to protect themselves online. This content will include curriculum, testing materials, evaluation tools, and general awareness content, enabling anyone interested in learning how to protect themselves or others with easy access to all the needed content.

Finally, despite our best protection efforts, online violations occur. Once someone has been the victim of an online crime or violation, getting help is hard to navigate. To address this, the platform will centralise all the ways that people can seek support no matter where they are in Africa. This new platform will be launched in February 2024.

Find out more about the winners:

- The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC): www.cabc.org.za

- City of Johannesburg Library and Information Services: www.cojelearning.org.za and www.joburg.org.za

- Global Leading Light Initiatives (GLLI): https://globalleadinglight.org/surfsmart

- Media Monitoring Africa (MMA): www.mediamonitoringafrica.org

- Wolfpack Information Risk: www.wolfpackrisk.com




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