Current status: impactAFRICA has now closed applications for round three

  • Published: August 19th, 2016

Africa’s largest fund for data-driven investigative storytelling launches its second call for proposals today, seeking investigative story pitches by journalists in six countries.

Journalists with digital storytelling ideas that go beyond ordinary reporting to expose new or under-reported issues in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia stand to win cash grants, technology support, and editorial mentoring on their projects.

The initiative is part of impactAFRICA, a $500,000 programme to provide support for pioneering African journalism that uses data or digital tools to tackle development issues, such as public healthcare, water, sanitation, the effects of air and water pollution on African communities, climate change, and other development issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The deadline for pitches is the 15th of November 2016.

“The first round produced over 350 story pitches, ranging from investigations into water hygiene to unscrupulous funeral industries. Our independent jury is currently selecting the ten best ideas for support”, says impactAFRICA programme manager Haji Mohamed Dawjee.

The ten semi-finalists will all attend a StoryCamp to refine their project plans, and will then receive cash grants up to a maximum of $20,000 along with additional support from technologists and editorial experts to help produce their projects.

The full details and guidelines are here.

“We will help the resulting stories get syndicated both in Africa and the wider world,” Dawjee adds. “The best of these published stories will be eligible for three additional prizes.”

The additional impactAFRICA prizes will recognise the best investigative report, the best data-driven story and the best service journalism project.

“Development issues are important, but are often reported in a boring way. What we’re looking for is compelling storytelling, told in an original way, that uses digital technologies for improved audience engagement,” says impactAFRICA director, Justin Arenstein. “You could also use data to personalise or localise stories but, most importantly, we’re looking for journalism that creates impact.”

impactAFRICA will host a series of online StoryLab workshops and webinars ahead of the application deadline, with global experts and mentors, to help prospective applicants explore possible topics and to brainstorm solutions to technical challenges. Details about the skills programme, which is open to all Africans who want to participate, can be found here.

The initiative is run through a partnership between Code for Africa (CfAfrica) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). Arenstein founded CfAfrica in 2012 as an ICFJ initiative and continues to manage it as part of an ICFJ Knight Fellowship. A consortium of donors led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and including the World Bank is funding impactAFRICA.

BMGF’s support has also enabled CfAfrica and ICFJ to recruit some of the continent’s most innovative digital news pioneers as ICFJ Knight Fellows, including the former editors-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian in South Africa (Chris Roper) and Star newspaper in Kenya (Catherine Gicheru), and Quartz Africa’s correspondent in Tanzania (Omar Mohammed). In Nigeria, pioneering civic technologist Temi Adeoye manages CfAfrica’s local CitizenLab, while Adi Eyal manages a similar lab at Code for South Africa and David Lemayian manages an umbrella pan-African tech lab out of Kenya.

impactAFRICA will also leverage its international partnerships, through ICFJ, to connect African innovators with their counterparts elsewhere in the Global South.

The partners

Code for Africa (CfAfrica) is the custodian of impactAFRICA and is the continent’s largest independent open data and civic technology initiative. It operates as a federation of autonomous country-based digital innovation organisations that support ‘citizen labs’ in five countries and major projects in a further 15 countries. CfAfrica runs Africa’s OpenGov Fellowships and also embeds innovation fellows into newsrooms and social justice organisations to help liberate data of public interest, or to build tools that help empower citizens. In addition to fellowships and CitizenLabs, CfAfrica runs the $1 million per year innovateAFRICA fund and the $500,000 per year impactAFRICA fund, which both award seed grants to civic pioneers for experiments with everything from camera drones and environmental sensors, to encryption for whistleblowers and data-driven semantic analysis tools for investigative watchdogs. CfAfrica also curates continental resources such as the africanSPENDING portal of budget transparency resources, the openAFRICA data portal, the sourceAFRICA document repository and the connectedAFRICA transparency toolkit for tracking the often hidden social networks and economic interests in politics. CfAfrica is an initiative of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is at the forefront of the news revolution. Its programmes empower journalists and engage citizens with new technologies and best practices. ICFJ’s networks of reporters and media entrepreneurs are transforming the field. ICFJ believes that better journalism leads to better lives. Over the past 30 years, ICFJ has worked with more than 92,000 professional and citizen journalists and media managers from 180 countries. ICFJ work through strong local partners, such as Code for Africa, and a network of dedicated alumni. For more information, go to

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