Forty groundbreaking ideas aim for ANIC’s US$1 million grand prize

Forty projects have made it to the finals of the Africa News Innovation Challenge to compete for the grand prize of US$1 million.

The Africa News Innovation Challenge is a competition from Google designed to encourage the development of creative tools journalists can use to disseminate information.

“The initiative is the largest fund for digital journalism experimentation in Africa, and is designed to spur solutions to the business, distribution and workplace challenges that face the media industry,” Google said.

The competition was announced on May 10 and received 513 applications in two months. They were then narrowed down to the 40 finalists from various African countries. The reviews were based on which applications would significantly transform African news media.

“We are thrilled with the broad range of innovation and ideas among the finalists,” said ANIC manager Justin Arenstein. “The teams with the strongest links to newsrooms and technology partners had an advantage, as did those that could already point to some proofs-of-concept.”

Some of the projects include apps that petition the government to act on stories that affect society, crowd sourced fact-checking solutions, research and analytical tools, news aggregation platforms and publishing platforms, among many others.

If fully implemented, some of these ideas will transform how news is received, managed and broadcasted to millions of Africans. This will see more accurate and immediate newsworthy stories being released by the African media.

The finalists are now headed to TechCamp in Zanzibar where they will have a chance to refine and defend their proposals with help from some of the world’s leading media technology strategists.

News aggregation tools are not new in Africa, although they are not common. Newsrooms have embraced the use of social media in accepting and disseminating news items.

Companies like Umuntu Media have come up with tools that help citizens aggregate breaking news items and views, creating Mimiboards which allow users to interact with news sites through twitter and text messaging.

For the 40 finalists, the date with destiny will be November 10 in Dakar, Senegal, where the 20 most innovative ideas will be rewarded with funding.

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