Code for Africa (CfAfrica), Africa’s largest independent digital journalism and civic technology initiative, has announced the winners of the US$1 million innovateAfrica Fund.
Announced last year, innovateAfrica Fund aims to support innovations that strengthen audience engagement with African civic media, improve digital news distribution, and those that explore new revenue models for African storytelling.
Opened to both mainstream media organisations and individual innovators, the fund received over 736 applications from across 49 African countries with each proposal undergoing an intensive two-month technical review process.
An independent jury of international experts evaluated the 73 strongest ideas and picked 22 as the winners.
Some of the winning projects tackle issues such as fake news and frontline war reporting, as well as innovative ways for watchdog media to use ‘bots, drones and sensors to improve their reportage.
“We’ve selected some of the brightest innovators in this space to experiment with leapfrog technologies, but the real focus is to help teams build real-world solutions to real-world problems that can immediately be adopted and scaled by mainstream media companies and civil society,” said Justin Arenstein, innovateAFRICA founder.
The winning projects will spend the next month refining their implementation plans and budgets, before each receiving seed grants of between $12,500 and $100,000 together with engineering support from CfAfrica’s civic tech labs across the continent.
Also, they will receive business development and other strategic mentorship from global experts at the Media Development Investment Fund and Global Editors Network.
“These projects represent exciting new approaches to tackling the challenges that face today’s media, both in Africa and around the world. The increasing threat of fake news is particularly troubling because it undermines the free flow of credible information that underpins modern societies,” said Jerri Eddings, a juror and senior program director at ICFJ.
He added, “We need innovative solutions to such problems, and it is heartening to see that innovateAFRICA has surfaced so many creative ideas for facing these challenges.”
The 51 other finalists will be helped to explore alternate funding, industry partnerships and community-driven collaboration.
Code for Africa (CfAfrica) manages the innovateAfrica Fund as part of the International Center for Journalists’ (ICFJ) wider data journalism initiative in Africa. Partners include Omidyar Network, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a host of others