THE SELECTION PROCESS: received 736 applications from 49 of Africa’s 54 countries.

Our technical review committee shortlisted 73 finalists, from which an independent jury of industry experts earmarked 22 projects for support subject to negotiation of mutually agreed budgets and implementation plans.

The 22 projects were selected because they proposed compelling plans to tackle the challenges that innovateAFRICA is trying to solve: from ways to use new technologies such as drones / sensors / satellites to produce actionable information and real-time reporting in difficult-to-reach places, to new ways to harness artificial intelligence (AI) and web robots (bots) for improved news gathering and civic engagement. A number of projects also strive to improve visual storytelling in Africa, combining cartoon illustrations with viral video techniques, along with data visualisations and immersive storytelling that includes 360° and virtual reality imagery.


The 22 shortlisted projects spent months testing and refining their plans, with input from Code for Africa’s network of international technologists and business experts.

After intensive review, innovateAFRICA determined that four of the 22 projects were not (yet) technically feasible for a variety of reasons, and therefore did not qualify for grants at this time. The teams behind these projects have either been offered other forms of support by Code for Africa, or have been guaranteed a slot in the finalist list for the next round of innovateAFRICA.

A number of the successful projects have also pivoted their original plans to address weaknesses that only became apparent during the final review process.


afriBOT, by the European Journalism Centre & The Source (Namibia + Zimbabwe + Tanzania): “We will build an open source newsbot to help African news organisations deliver personalized news and engage more effectively with audiences via messaging platforms.”

africanDRONE, by a pan-african drone pilots (pan-Africa): “We will establish Africa’s first drone journalism hub, in Tanzania, as the basecamp for the continent wide africanDRONE community of certified drone journalists, mappers, and story-tellers.”

ATLAS, by Quartz Africa / Atlantic Media (pan-Africa): “We will bring Quartz’s chart-building and data visualisation platform, Atlas, to newsrooms and organizations across Africa for free, and will build a database of Africa-focused data sources and visualisation templates to make data journalism more accessible.”

Blast Tracker, by Sophie Tremblay (Tanzania): “We will establish Africa’s first investigative sensor journalism initiative, installing underwater microphones along Tanzania’s coast to track and map explosions from dynamite fishing in real-time, supported by camera drones to speedily identify and track boats involved in the explosions.”

CHECK, by PesaCheck & Meedan (Kenya + Tanzania + Uganda): “We will implement a cloud-based workflow system and collaborative workbench for the regional PesaCheck fact-checking network to improve news verification in three East African countries.”

CitizenScience, by Open Data Durban (South Africa): “We will create a citizen science network in Durban’s shantytowns that uses air and water quality sensors to boost data-driven science journalism and real-time civic activism, through a network of clubs at schools and civic labs for adults.”

DollarStreet Africa, by Gapminder Foundation (Kenya + Nigeria + Tanzania): “We live in a globally connected world. But we do not understand it, and it scares us. DollarStreet will expand its use of photos as data to show how people on the same income level live very similar lives across Africa and the globe.”

ENGAGE, by the Engage Video Group (South Africa): “We will use our proven expertise at creating viral audiences around social video to build an African version of Buzzfeed/Vice that combines hard-hitting journalism with video-first formats.”

FRONTLINE, by African Defence Review (South Africa): “We will transform the well-established African Defence Review (ADR) into an African version of that uses satellite images and other digital ‘open intelligence’ sources to shine a light on African war zones and the murky economies that fund conflict.”

gazeti.AFRICA, by AfriLII & the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (Kenya + Nigeria + Senegal + Sierra Leone + Tanzania): “Government gazettes are a goldmine of actionable information. We will liberate Nigeria’s gazettes by digitising and turning them into structured searchable data for free access by journalists, activists and business users.”

Hospital Helper, by Health-E News (South Africa): “We will create South Africa’s first geo-data tools and journalism for checking the safety / health rating of your local hospital or clinic, based on official government audits or inspection results.”

illustrate.AFRICA, by an association of African news illustrators (pan-Africa): “We will establish Africa’s first Graphic Journalism hub for visual storytelling, using graphic novel / comic animations, to produce news as mobile-optimised social video and graphic novels for multiple African media partners.”

InfoFinder, by AfricaCheck (Kenya + Nigeria + South Africa + Senegal): “Africa is awash in unverified data. We will further develop AfricaCheck’s ‘info finder’ tool by expanding the number of pre-verified data sources to help media and the public to check claims.”

LiveWire, by Grass Root Nation (South Africa): “Mainstream media is out of touch with grassroots communities. We will build on our popular petition and community mobilisation tools to create a crowdsourced ‘PR Wire’ service that alerts mainstream broadcast and print media about mass events (pickets, marches, protests) by grassroots communities.”

MembaO, by Code for Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone): “We will build West Africa’s first data-driven platform that uses parliamentary records and investigative research to strengthen citizen oversight of elected politicians and Parliament itself.”

MeshNews, by Outernet & DataZetu (Tanzania): “Much of Africa is still offline. Outernet will harness satellite and radio technologies to broadcast digital news and interactive data journalism content to rural audiences in Africa who don’t have traditional Internet coverage.”

NewsBot, by Atchai & Star (Kenya) & Punch (Nigeria): “We will pioneer rapid-deployment news gathering tools using Facebook / SMS based chat-bots, that will help journalists quickly collect opinion data and eyewitness accounts though polls and surveys.”

Overlay, by Paul Watson (pan-Africa): “We will tackle fake news and ‘post-fact’ information in the news reportage by creating a journalist-sourced verification information network integrated directly into social media platform timelines.”

Our Mission

To support digital innovation and experimentation that seeks to empower citizens by improving the quality and impact of African civic journalism by using new digital tools and techniques for ‘making’ news, along with new ways for audiences to engage with news, and new models for civic media organisations to sustain themselves.