By Chinenye Anuforo, Lagos
Google has announced a number of initiatives across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa bolstering its continued efforts to keep children, young people and families safe online.
Aligning with the theme of this year’s global Safer Internet Day, “Together for a better Internet”, Google has teamed up with several organisations across the continent to boost education efforts and develop programmes around online safety.
‘With an estimated 346 million internet users that came online for the first time in the last year, and 376 million new social media users, there is no better time for us to help people stay safe online,” says Juliet Ehimuan, Country Director, Google Nigeria.
‘We are working with nonprofits and social enterprises to advance their work through Google.org’s Africa Online Safety Fund, while also working with educational institutions and governments across sub-Saharan Africa in order to have a greater impact.’
Administered as part of the Africa Online Safety Fund, Google.org gave a grant to Impact Amplifier and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, to run an open call across the continent to find the most innovative and impactful nonprofit organisations operating in this space. 26 social impact organisations across nine African countries have been selected to receive grants of up to $100,000 each. The five selected in Nigeria include Epower, LagosMums, Velma Foundation, Hive Creative Guild and Teens Can Code. This funding will be used to boost projects that work to combat online vulnerabilities, disinformation and extremism aimed at children, the youth, families, schools and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Google has also collaborated with Nigerian author Nomthi Odukoya to create the children’s online safety book ‘How to be Safe Online’. Physical copies of the book will be distributed to 30,000 learners in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa this month, which is also available online on the Read-Along app.
‘With more children, young people and families increasingly using the internet to learn and work in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, online safety is a priority for everyone,” continues Juliet Ehimuan.
“We look forward to the continued empowerment of teachers, parents and guardians with tools to keep children safe online. Continued collaboration with government bodies like Kenya’s Communications Authority, Nigeria’s Public and Private Development Centre, and South Africa’s Department of Social Development, among others, will ensure that we have the necessary backing to make the internet better for all users, especially young children and families across the continent.’