Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has announced a $1 million (Kshs 100 million) grant to promote safe internet use by children, young people and families in Africa.
The grant will support training by non-profit and social enterprises focusing on privacy, trust and safety in Africa. In addition to providing organizations with funds to help support the online safety efforts for children, Google is also looking at expanding programs around internet literacy through its landmark program for kids, Be Internet Awesome. The program launches in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa this week.
(TOP: Dorothy Ooko, Google’s Communications and Public Officer for sub-Saharan Africa; Charles Murito, Google Kenya Country Director; and Michael Murungi, Google’s Government Affairs and Public Policy Lead for Eastern Africa at the Be Internet Awesome event).
The launch is part of the 16th annual Safer Internet Day celebrations which was marked on Tuesday 11 February 2020 globally. It began as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004, now celebrated in approximately 150 countries worldwide.
“The need for collective efforts by all stakeholders to safeguard our young people online can not be gainsaid. Initiatives such as this, and the Google Be Internet Awesome program and website we are set to launch today, will go a long way in making the Internet a safer place for our children”, said Acting Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya, Mercy Wanjau.
In August 2019, Google began collaborations with local NGOs and stakeholders to run face to face online safety training reaching 36,000 students, parents and teachers, and helping children learn how to be safer online.
The World Economic Forum report, states that more than 50 percent of the world’s children experience violence every year. Mobile use is rising as well as internet access in Africa. This has seen a more freer expression of opinions on different subjects out there.
Children are more than 30 percent of Internet users. By 2022, another 1.2 billion new users will have been added to this figure, with children being the fastest-growing online demographic. This is why Google launched the online safety roadshow; expanded its Web Rangers online safety programme for high schoolers which has so far trained over 100,000 children and educators and also launched an online safety programme for parents.
Google is working with its partners across Africa to help children and families to be safe, confident explorers of the online world. It is helping children practice smart tactics for analysing and evaluating information, sharing media with care, protecting and securing private data, and handling cyberbullying. In Kenya, Google works with a broad range of partners including NGOs, educators, schools, government agencies and regulatory bodies.
Charles Murito, Country Director for Google Kenya says that: “We can’t do it alone. We know that the best answers often come from those closest to the problem – from civil society organizations and nonprofit innovators who understand the needs of vulnerable populations in their own communities. That’s why we are launching a pan-African $1 million fund to support innovative project ideas by nonprofits and social enterprises around digital literacy and online safety of children, young people, and families. The fund will be administered by a third-party partner, on behalf of Google.org. You can submit an expression of interest to access the grant here.”
Internet users can visit this portal to learn more about Google’s resources that can help them increase their online safety.