At Google, we are committed to providing safe tools and resources to explore the digital world for both families and children. A lot of essential services have been moved online due to quarantine and safe distancing measures under Covid-19. This makes sense. On one hand, it makes things more convenient, and we can do more from our devices. On the other hand, it creates a growing need to step up efforts to help more people stay safe while online. Reports
estimate that 346 million people came online for the first time in the last 12 months, and 376 million people have used social media for the first time during the same period. If there has ever been a moment to amplify the online safety efforts, it is now.
This year, as we join the world to celebrate Safer Internet Day with the theme “Together for a better Internet", we’re pleased to announce new programs, in-conjunction with a few organizations, aimed at educating and developing programs to help more people keep safe while browsing the web.
Announcing winners of the Africa Online Safety Fund
As part of Safer Internet Day in 2020, our philanthropic arm, Google.org, announced the $1,000,000 Africa Online Safety Fund to tackle challenges related to hate, extremism, disinformation, and child safety, both online and offline in Africa. The grant was given to Impact Amplifier
and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue
to create and run an open call and mentorship platform to support innovative ideas by nonprofits and social enterprises around digital literacy and online safety of children, young people and families.
A year on, as we celebrate Safer Internet Day this year, 26 organizations across 9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have been selected to receive grants of up to $100,000 to develop and scale projects in this space in this space
Organizations receiving up to $100,000
- ChildFund International (Kenya): Taking an ecosystem approach, which includes national research, community, school and media based training, and policy development to prevent online sex trafficking.
- Dream Factory Foundation (South Africa): Combining online educational programs through edutainment and train-the-trainer workshops with telehealth counseling services for young people, teachers and parents.
- Epuka Ugaidi (Kenya): Building a platform to channel youth creativity (short-films, poetry and music) through workshops, training and an annual competition as a mechanism to counter recruitment by violent extremists.
- Hive Creative Guild (Nigeria): Creating a large scale marketing platform, which gamifies online safety information and rewards participants with a variety of goods and services.
- Save the Children International, Senegal Country office (Senegal): Facilitating an awareness campaign and working with the media, child protective services, police and security forces to prevent online sexual abuse and exploitation
- Teens Can Code (Nigeria): Including online safety education into the coding curriculum for young adults and creating a peer-to-peer helpline to prevent and support victims of cybercrimes.
- The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (South Africa): Developing and disseminating content that counters mis/disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic; and exposes manipulation networks that promote hate.
- University of Gondar (Ethiopia): Focusing on female high school students, this project will create online safety teaching materials, train teachers to deliver it and introduce these materials into the high school curriculum.
Organizations receiving up to $10,000
- Action et Humanisme (Cote D’Ivoire): Developing an initiative that will equip female sales people, entrepreneurs, civil servants, and young people with the digital financial security skills needed to keep them safe.
- Aydia Technology Consultants (Uganda): Providing digital skills and online safety and security training to female politicians and reporters to promote digital inclusion, protect and empower them
- EndCode (South Africa): Creating a framework and guidelines for defining age-appropriate online services.
- Epower (Nigeria): Developing an interactive gaming application tackling issues like cyberbullying and equipping tackling issues like cyberbullying and equipping children with good online etiquette, helping them stay safe online. helping them stay safe online.
- Fundanii (South Africa): Training teachers, students, and integrating online safety into the digital literacy curriculum of a primary school district.
- Global Leading Light Initiatives (South Africa): Facilitating student-driven and culturally inclusive internet safety education and awareness activities to empower young people, teachers and parents
- Iceaddis (Ethiopia): Building an educational how-to guide on healthy internet habits and social media literacy.
- LagosMums (Nigeria): Promoting online safety and digital well-being through training, resource development and short courses for parents, teachers and children.
- Lonamac (Kenya): Introducing income generating programs and activities for low-income youth as a mechanism to counteract terrorist recruitment efforts targeting youth.
- Media Monitoring Africa (South Africa): Creating and distributing educational online comic strips as a means to teach children how to critically decipher information and discern between credible news and disinformation.
- Mzuzu Entrepreneur Hub (Malawi): Training women-led and tech and tech organisations on privacy and the prevention of financial scams.
- PAJAN Kenya (Kenya): A communication platform where community members, the public sector and civil society can access resources on fact checking to prevent extremist groups recruitment.
- Read Nigeria Book Reading Club (Nigeria): Educating primary and high school students about online safety through a series of online quizzes and essay competitions and offline education for schools and parents.
- SheHacks Kenya (Kenya): A platform that uses interactive role playing to teach students and educators on the risks associated with internet usage and how to mitigate them.
- Sote Information & Communication Technology (Kenya): Providing physical and online training to high school students, parents and teachers that addresses a broad range of online safety issues.
- Tanzania Trans Initiative (Tanzania): Facilitating a radio show and workshops that target the online safety issues that affect women and girls.
- Velma Foundation (Nigeria): Establishing a rehabilitation program and ICT hub for juvenile cybercrime offenders,educating and working with the government, young people and companies in addressing online criminal activity and vulnerabilities.
- Winam Wezesha Accelerator (Kenya): Creating a community based approach to educational programs, which focus on hate crimes, disinformation and digital literacy for women and children.
Providing free online safety books for 30,000 Students & Schools across Africa
Last year we announced
the launch of the online safety story book titled 'How to be Safe Online’, developed in partnership with children’s author Nomthi Odukoya
, with a goal of helping children aged 10-16 years to better understand online safety in a more fun and easier way. We also announced that a free downloadable e-version was available for advanced readers aged 8 and above on the Read Along app
While we've been excited to see how popular these have been, we’ve been exploring more avenues to get these books to more children, especially those without regular access to computers and mobile devices. Today we’re pleased to announce we will be providing physical copies of the book to 30,000 students and schools across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
Working with governments in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa
We understand that policymakers play a vital role in amplifying online safety efforts in Africa, and collaborating with them provides the scale to guarantee that more people get the resources they need. This year, we have placed more focus into partnerships that ensure that children remain safe while home-schooling online. In South Africa we ran online safety training for parents in partnership with the Department of Social Development
and Film and Publications Board
. We also launched an Online Safety Curriculum Guideline in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department
to scale the awareness and uptake of online safety content in schools.
In Kenya, we collaborated with the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Kenya Film Classification Board to scale our online safety program for teachers, parents, and guardians through a series of webinars.
In Nigeria, we have collaborated with Public and Private Development (PPDC), through their Digital Inclusion and Safer Internet (DISI) program to run online safety webinars for teachers, parents, and children; educating them about safety tips and Google safety tools like Family Link and Youtube Kids.. Through the collaboration, we have established Webranger virtual clubs across secondary schools in Nigeria, despite the outbreak of COVID19. Also the approved Online safety curriculum developed in collaboration with NERDC and adopted across schools in Nigeria was used to carry out teachers' capacity building training across selected states in Nigeria.
Celebrate Safer Internet day with us by using the Password Manager
to save your password with your Google account and Security Checkup
These tools are important to help create a positive online experience for everyone. Visit the Safety Centre
for more tools and resources on online safety .
Posted by Charles Murito, Director, Government Relations & Public Policy, Africa.