The Africa Online Safety Fund was created to support innovative ideas around privacy, trust and safety for families online across sub-Saharan Africa. It is administered by Impact Amplifier on behalf of Google.org.
Funds are being distributed in two categories, being transformative and catalytic. Transformative grants are a maximum of USD$100 000 and are aimed at projects that provide larger and scalable solutions across multiple geographies and / or potentially large numbers of beneficiaries.
Catalytic grants, of a maximum of USD$10 000, target smaller, potentially local or culturally specific projects.
Applications were open from Friday, 17 July to Friday, 21 August 2020 to social enterprises, public sector or public benefit organisations (but not individuals) throughout Africa.
The primary criteria used to select successful applications included their:
- innovation and replication
- social impact
- potential for success
- management team
- financial efficiency, and
Following the funding award, finalists will undergo a mentoring process to develop and implement the winning solutions in the regions (and where applicable across Africa) in order to combat socio-economic and political security and safety threats.
The finalists include 26 organisations across the region (17 catalytic and eight transformative) working on a range of projects that focus on online safety for children, their families and schools. It also includes small-to-medium businesses, anti-terrorism intiatives focused on young people and combating mis- and disinformation.
The South African grant awardees and their projects are the following:Transformative:
- Dream Factory Foundation: Combines online educational programmes through edutainment and train-the-trainer workshops with telehealth counselling services for young people, teachers and parents, and
- The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change: Develops and disseminates content that counters mis / disinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic, and exposes manipulation networks that promote hate.
- Endcode: Creates a framework and guidelines for defining age-appropriate online services.
- Fundanii: Trains teachers and students and integrates online safety into the digital literacy curriculum of a primary school district.
- Global Leading Light Initiatives: Facilitates student-driven and culturally inclusive Internet safety education and awareness activities to empower young people, teachers and parents, and
- Media Monitoring Africa: Creates and distributes educational online comic strips as a means to teach children how to critically decipher information and discern between credible news and disinformation.
The full list of awardees is on the Google blog here
"Google is committed to safety and privacy across the Internet," says Yolanda Mlonzi, senior analyst of public policy and government relations at Google Africa.
"It's essential that people have the skills they need to stay safe online. The fund is designed to reach children, families and other Internet users across the region with tools and resources that will help to protect them from online security threats, explore the web with confidence and harness all the benefits the internet can provide," adds Mlonzi.
Google has also announced the launch of the next cohort of Web Rangers, an international digital and media literacy programme designed to empower young people with critical skills on how to use the Internet and social media responsibly and confidently.
"This year, we aim to train 300 Web Rangers from across all nine provinces. These Web Rangers will be between the ages of 12 and 17 years old from both primary and high schools. We are excited to welcome these digital citizens who will learn how to use the Internet responsibly," Mlonzi concludes.
For more information, visit www.google.com