To mark the annual Safer Internet Day (which was celebrated on Feb. 6th), Impact Amplifier, with the financial support of Google.org — on Tuesday launched its online safety platform; AOSP in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Africa Online Safety Platform (AOSP) is an Africa-wide project with an initial focus on South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana. It is an initiative of Impact Amplifier and part of the firm’s broader intention to address African Online Safety at a systemic level.
The African internet safety ecosystem is hindered by several issues, key among them the lack of a central repository of all the online safety research that has been conducted on a broad spectrum of issues in Africa; lack of a central repository for education material for the plethora of online safety challenges relevant for African users; the absence of support systems that are less complex and time-consuming; and underfunding of the needed interventions.
The AOSP is built to address all these challenges. The platform provides a rich repository of research, education content, funding opportunities, and ways to seek help if an online crime has occurred. In addition, the platform is intended to address the complexity of understanding what online safety issues are affecting different parts of Africa, how to keep everyone particularly young people safe online, how to teach online safety formally in schools and at home, funding opportunities for safety innovators, and how to get help if a crime or other violation has occurred.
Impact Amplifier Chief Executive Tanner Methvin while speaking at the launch event said, “With over 500 million people having access to the internet in Africa, reflecting just under 40 percent of the continent’s population, online safety concerns deserve utmost attention.”
Methvin remarked that as a solution, AOSP offers innovative 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 South Africa Country Director, Dr. Alistair Mokoena said, “The launch of this platform shows 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.”
At the event, Impact Amplifier also held a panel discussion with experts from South Africa and Kenya who discussed various aspects of the online safety challenges faced in Africa. The panelists included; Craig Rosewarne; Managing Director of Wolfpack Information Risk, Camaren Pete; Director/Executive Lead at Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change, Dennis Ratemo; Programme Manager at Terre des Hommes, and Martha Sunda; Executive Director of Childline Kenya. Their discussions underscored the importance of solutions that were suited to local contexts in Africa.