African online safety platform launches in South Africa
Impact Amplifier, an advisory firm, launched the African Online Safety Platform (AOSP) Wednesday, with financial backing from Google.org.
The AOSP is a continent-wide project that is part of Impact Amplifier's larger plan to address African online safety on a systemic basis.
According to the company's statement, the African internet safety ecosystem is hampered by a number of difficulties, the most significant of which is the lack of a central repository for all online safety research undertaken on a wide range of concerns in Africa.
It went on to say that the challenges include a lack of a central repository for education material for the plethora of online safety challenges that African users face; the absence of less complex and time-consuming legal and social media platform support systems; and underfunding of the necessary interventions.
As a result, the company stated that the AOSP was aimed at addressing all of these difficulties. The site offers a vast archive of research, educational content, funding opportunities, and ways to seek assistance if an online crime has occurred.
Also, the site is intended to address the complexities of understanding what online safety issues are affecting different parts of Africa, how to keep everyone, especially young people, safe online, how to teach online safety formally in schools and at home, funding opportunities for safety innovators, and how to seek assistance if a crime or other violation has occurred.
The launch also featured a panel discussion with many Impact Amplifier grantees who are part of the ecosystem solution. These speakers represented online safety innovators from South Africa and Kenya, who highlighted the complexities and solutions to remaining safe online in Africa.
South African panellists were Craig Rosewarne, managing director Wolfpack Information Risk, and Camaren Peter, director/executive lead, Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC). Dennis Ratemo, programme manager at Terre des Hommes, and Martha Sunda, executive director at Childline Kenya, were both from Kenya. Their conversations highlighted the significance of African-specific solutions.
Speaking at the event, Impact Amplifier Director, Tanner Methvin said: “With over 570 million people having access to the internet in Africa, reflecting just under 47 per cent of the continent’s population, online safety concerns deserve utmost attention.”
The new platform, Methvin added, “Offers approaches to addressing the complex safety issues the internet presents. These range from unique ways of combating mis and disinformation, tracking of cyber criminals, supporting journalists targeted with hate speech and bullying, integrating online safety training into school curriculums, and much more.”
Google SA country director, Dr Alistair Mokoena, commented: “We first partnered with Impact Amplifier in 2020, when we announced the initial fund. We have now launched version 2.0 to show that we remain committed to providing sustained and dedicated support to the online safety ecosystem in Africa, in order to ensure that vulnerable populations are protected from online harms and reap the benefits of the internet. We encourage the relevant parties to use this amazing new education and research resource and to apply to the fund.”