Over 500 million people have access to the internet in Africa; and although this reflects just under 40% of the population, this level of penetration is 110 times what it was just 20 years ago. Not only has internet access increased dramatically, but so has smartphone usage, with ownership now at 250 million people.
This exponential increase in internet, smartphone and mobile network usage has created extraordinary new opportunities for socio-economic development on the African continent. However, this rapid growth rate has simultaneously created a range of safety concerns, including:
- Identify theft
- Bullying and harassment
- Sex trafficking
- Hate crimes
- Terrorist recruitment and promotion
- Mis or disinformation
- Financial scams
To address these issues, the Africa Online Safety Fund, with support from Google.org, has been established to support innovative existing and new solutions to these challenges. While not exclusively focused, the Fund will be favoring solutions, which address women’s and children’s online safety specifically, as they are the most targeted communities in this regard.
Impact Amplifier, a South African based social impact advisory firm will be managing the Fund. It will be critically supported by ISD, a UK based think and do tank, dedicated to understanding and innovating responses to polarisation, hate and extremism of all forms.
The Africa Online Safety Fund will be awarding grants to organizations that address one or more of the safety issues the internet facilitates.
There are two categories of funding: Transformative and Catalytic. The 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 Catalytic projects are intended to be smaller, targeted, and potentially only locally or culturally specific. The Transformative grants will be a maximum of $100,000 and the Catalytic Grants will be a maximum of $10,000.
A $1,000,000 commitment has been made to address online safety issues in Africa.
The application process will be in two stages. Stage one is a short application form to be completed by all interested organizations. All applicants that are shortlisted will be eligible to complete the second stage of the application process. The details and requirements of this stage will be provided directly to all shortlisted applicants.
Applicants can be public benefit organizations, private or from the public sector. No individual applicants will be considered.
The Fund is open to organizations throughout Africa but is prioritizing Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, and the Ivory Coast.
Only completed applications will be considered.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION
The primary criteria that will be used to select successful applicants include:
- INNOVATION AND REPLICATION – what is the level of novelty in the intervention/service? Can it function as a model for other interventions? Does it replicate other successful online safety interventions from different geographies?
- SOCIAL IMPACT – what is the scale of the online safety problem being addressed? What is the potential social impact of the intervention? What is the potential impact if the intervention is scaled beyond the current plan? Can it in fact be ramped up? (Is it cost-effective, sustainable, and replicable?)
- POTENTIAL FOR SUCCESS – how likely is the intervention to achieve its stated goals?
- MANAGEMENT TEAM – what is the strength and experience of the management team and the precedent set by the team in terms of cooperation, achieving goals, and beneficiaries served?
- FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY – is the funding requested an efficient use of resources? How does the amount requested, the scope of the problem to be addressed, and beneficiaries to be reached compared to other applicants?
- SUSTAINABILITY – can the intervention planned become financially sustainable beyond this grant? If so, how and to what scale?
The first phase of the application process is open from 17 July to 21 August. The shortlisted applicants will be announced by 7 September. The finalists will be selected by 8 October 2020.