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Africa Blog

Google News Initiative

Innovation success in Middle East, Africa and Turkey

We announced the third GNI Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge in February, as part of our ongoing commitment to spur innovation in news and journalism throughout the globe, as well as the creation of new business models. This year, like in prior years, news innovators have stepped forward with several fascinating projects displaying innovative thinking.

WANANCHI Reporting’s new interactive platform will allow Kenya's unserved and underprivileged to become active participants in telling and/or re-telling their tales from diverse, but rich perspectives.

In an industry first initiative, Nigeria-based TheCable intends to create the country's first disability-inclusive news application, along with assistive technologies that will make it the go-to destination for those with vision impairments, hearing issues, and many other limb challenges.

South Africa-based Daily Maverick aims to solve the pervasive problem of audience engagement for news publishers by developing a suite of tools that will increase engagement rates with high-impact content.

These 3 projects are some of the 34 announced today as part of the 3rd Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

Innovation success in Middle East, Africa and Turkey

Success! The team at the (Dubawa Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development) who will automate radio fact-checking. 

The GNI Innovation Challenges, part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, have seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.

The 3rd Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge received 425 applications from 42 countries – a 27% increase in overall applications. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, 34 projects were selected from 17 countries to receive $3.2 million in funding.

This Innovation Challenge saw a significant increase in applications from news organizations undertaking fact checking activities: an increase of 118% when compared to previous Innovation Challenges in the region. Proposed projects which use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) also showed significant growth (92%), reflecting a trend across the news ecosystem to embrace cutting edge new technologies and data.

The call for applications listed five criteria: impact on the news ecosystem; innovation; diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility – and the chosen projects clearly demonstrated all five. Here’s a selection of the successful recipients (you can find the full list on our website):

  • Dubawa, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development from Nigeria, an online-only publisher, will introduce automated radio fact-checking.
  • Majarra from the UAE will apply AI and ML to use readers’ data to better help them navigate their website and be more inclusive to female subscribers.
  • Minority Africa from Uganda is designing and implementing a web distribution application that will make it easier for newsrooms publishing under a Creative Commons license to have more control of their work.
  • Quote This Woman+ from South Africa will build a tool to provide women+ (identified as women, people living with disabilities, LGBTQI+, rural and religious minorities)
  • sources to newsrooms and journalists to diversify sources in news coverage.
  • Dipnot from Turkey, a TV company, will create COM+: a multi-screen OTT platform for curated news in Turkey.

The successful recipients will be embarking on their projects later this summer and will share their learnings with the wider news ecosystem.