Google kicks off innovation challenge for Africa, Middle East news outlets

The Google News Initiative has launched the third Innovation Challenge for Africa, Middle East and Turkey where selected projects will receive up to Sh17 million ($150,000) each in funding. The contest is part of Google’s Sh34.1 billion ($300 million) commitment to help journalists thrive in the digital age.
Projects will be evaluated based on various criteria such as innovation, impact on news ecosystem, diversity, equity and inclusion. Other segments are inspiration and feasibility. All news providers can apply until Tuesday, April 5.
Google will finance up to 70 per cent of the total project budget and the remaining 30 per cent will be provided by the applicant.
“Over the past three years, we’ve seen news providers in the region advance a diverse range of topics from data journalism and new readers revenue models to digital newsroom tools designed to tackle climate change reporting,” said Ludovic Blecher, head of Google News Initiative Innovation.
“The Middle East, Turkey and Africa is a region rich with talent, high potential and opportunities. This year, we’re looking forward to seeing fresh ideas and innovative approaches to big challenges the news ecosystem is facing.”
The challenge which has been running since 2019 has seen 43 projects selected from 18 countries including Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana among others.
Recipients of the 2019 and 2021 Innovation Challenges answered came up with an innovative system to increase reader engagement and explore new business models. The ideas comprised digital membership schemes to Arabic language search tools.
Kenya’s independent media firm Africa Uncensored was selected in 2020 after submitting a project based on aggregating news from members of the public to produce news at scale by giving a voice to marginalised persons.
The Standard Group Plc’s project was also selected last year.

The project looks to find solutions to the thinning revenue on legacy products and shifting consumer habits through the messenger reader revenue project.

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