Google News Initiative launches in Africa

Google News Initiative launches in Africa
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Google has announced that applications for its second Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in Africa have opened with a goal to help media organisations in the region improve their revenues.

The company has made an open call for projects that increase reader engagement and explore new business models for media.

According to Ludovic Blecher, Head of Innovation at Google News Initiative, “The selected projects will be funded up to USD$150-000 and up to 70% of the total project cost.”

The first GNI Innovation Challenge saw 21 projects in 13 countries receive funding in 2020. Awardees were from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa,Turkey, and the UAE.

For the 2021 GNI Innovation Challenge, grants are open to any organisations that aim to produce innovative, original journalism and to enlighten citizens with trustworthy journalistic content, whose projects focus on encouraging a more sustainable news ecosystem.

Evaluation will take into account the impact on the broader news system, and a jury will be looking for a chance of “significant positive impact on the creation of new revenue streams and/or change the way people consume digital news”.

In the first Innovation Challenge, South Africa’s Daily Maverick developed a ‘relevancy engine’ for small and medium publishers to help them aggregate better reader insights to increase relevancy and increase subscriptions.

Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria was awarded funding to increase personalisation across its platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement. Kenyan awardee Africa Uncensored is aggregating news from members of the public to produce at scale.

Applications are open for established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia and local industry associations are eligible to apply. Applications must be made via the website and are open until Monday, 12 April, an online town hall will be held on Wednesday, 3 March at 13.00 GMT with a live presentation on how to apply and an opportunity to ask further questions to the GNI team.

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