The Africa Online Safety Fund (AOSF) has announced winners of this year’s grants, among them four organisations operating in Kenya. These are: Boltech Consultancy, Watoto Watch Network, Wezesha Innovation Foundation, and Terre des Hommes Netherlands Foundation in partnership with Childline Kenya.
The selection of the 22 winning organisations from seven countries was announced by Impact Amplifier (IA) from its headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa.
Kenya and Ghana each had four winning entries, while South Africa had five and Nigeria with six, 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 across 15 African countries in total.
Just over 350 applications were received in the 2023 cohort, from which a shortlist of 40 entries made it for 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.org.
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 per cent 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 mis 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 of the safety issues the internet facilitates. It is, however, focused 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 the support from Google.org, is developing the first Africa focused online safety research, education and support platform. Funding solutions to online safety since 2021, Impact Amplifier has realized that the only way to combat the scale of this challenge is by creating an ecosystem approach.
Part of developing this ecosystem involves centralising some of the key tools needed for support. To this end it is developing an online platform, which aggregates all the research which has been done regarding online safety in Africa, making this key knowledge available to policy makers, civil society, academics, business and the general public.
Additionally, the platform will be hosting education materials to teach children and adults alike 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 content they need.