The Africa Online Safety Fund (AOSF) has unveiled the 21 recipients of this year's grants, showcasing the innovative efforts of organisations across the continent to promote online safety.
AOSF is an initiative founded by Impact Amplifier, supported by Google.org. The initiative is dedicated to nurturing innovative solutions for the complex safety challenges posed by the internet.
While the AOSF aims to promote online safety throughout Africa, this funding round has a primary focus on four countries: Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.
The Context: The Africa Online Safety Fund Addresses Critical Concerns
Online safety is of critical importance in Africa. Over 500 million people in Africa have access to the internet, which accounts for nearly 40% of the population.
Internet penetration in Africa has doubled 110 times in the last 20 years, accompanied by a burgeoning ownership of smartphones which is expected to reach 475 million individuals by 2025. The exponential growth in internet access and smartphone usage has ushered in unprecedented opportunities for socio-economic development across the continent.
However, this rapid digital expansion has brought along a set of critical safety concerns, including:
To address these issues Impact Amplifier, with support from Google.org, developed the AOSF.
21 Winners and a Record Number of Quality Applicants
The 2023 cohort of the AOSF witnessed an impressive response, with over 350 applications received. After a rigorous evaluation process, a shortlist of 40 entries made it to the final selection. The selected organisations will receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.
Online Safety Solutions Spanning 15 African Countries
Nigeria led the way with six awardees, followed by South Africa with five, and four each for Ghana and Kenya. Somalia and Zimbabwe each had one winning organisation. Collectively, their internet safety initiatives will span across 15 African countries.
Diverse Solutions for Online Safety
The winning projects encompass a wide range of innovative approaches. These include combating misinformation and disinformation, establishing investigative teams to track cybercriminals, supporting journalists facing hate speech and cyberbullying, integrating online safety training into school curriculums, and much more.
Three Categories of Funding
The AOSF offers funding in three distinct categories.
Projects that aim to have a broader scale and reach multiple geographies, potentially benefiting a large number of people.
Transformative projects can receive grants of up to $50,000.
Projects designed to test new ideas within existing projects and reach new audiences.
Maturing projects can receive grants up to $25,000.
Projects that are more localised or culturally specific.
Catalytic projects are eligible for grants of $10,000.
MEET THE WINNERS
LAUNCHING IN 2024: THE FIRST AFRICA-FOCUSED ONLINE SAFETY SUPPORT PLATFORM
Recognising the scale of the online safety challenge, Impact Amplifier, with the support of Google.org, is developing the first Africa-focused online safety research, education, and support platform. The platform aims to create an ecosystem approach by centralising key tools for support.
The platform will serve as a hub for aggregating extensive research conducted on online safety in Africa. It will share this knowledge with policymakers, civil society, academics, businesses, and the public. Additionally, it will offer educational materials for children and adults to learn critical online safety skills, including curricula, tests, evaluations, and general awareness content in one accessible place.
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The Africa Online Safety Fund, through its grant winners and the upcoming platform, remains at the forefront of efforts to ensure a safer digital environment for all Africans.