Following a public call-for-submissions at the beginning of 2021, 8 finalists have been invited to participate in the U.S.-Africa Tech Challenge to present their solutions to the problem of disinformation and propaganda. The organizations are based in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda.
Given the threat that disinformation and propaganda pose to public trust, cohesion, and security, responses to the problem include technology solutions that identify, expose, and counter these threats.
The U.S.-Africa Tech Challenge aims to advance the development of promising technologies that offer innovative solutions to help expose, understand, and counter propaganda and disinformation across Africa.
The challenge is sponsored by
- The U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC)
- The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi
- The U.S. Agency for International Development
- The European Union
- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development
- Park Advisors and Disinfo Cloud
The solutions address various types of disinformation, including health-, political-, and economic-related disinformation, and vary in their approach to the problem.
The 8 finalists and their solutions are listed below
1. Code for Africa/CivicSignal’s MediaCloud – Provides real-time topic tracking and media analysis to better understand how propaganda and disinformation affect mainstream media coverage.
2. Outbox’s Project Toxsint – Surfaces suspicious disinformation clusters during tense political events like elections and can generate reports and trend graphs around these clusters for further analyses.
3. GhanaFact and FakeNetAI – Offer an AI-powered solution to identify synthetic media and disinformation to help increase efficiency and accuracy of fact checking.
4. Code for Africa/CivicSignal/DyDx’s TrustList – Identifies vulnerabilities in the media and helps advertisers and other stakeholders direct their investments away from sites peddling disinformation.
5. Congo Check – Identifies mis/disinformation, focusing primarily on health-related issues, and uses fact-checking infrastructure to send verified information to registered users for free via SMS messages.
6. Hudibia – Provides free access to health information validated by expert practitioners, including through audio translations into local languages to help facilitate equal access in communities.
7. AIfluence – Uses NLP to research audiences and identify trusted micro-influencers to conduct behavioral change campaigns, taking into consideration the cultural, ethnic, demographic, and linguistic diversity of the continent.
8. Sea Monster’s Lighthouse – Offers digital solutions, including animation, games, and quizzes that can play a critical role in cutting through the noise to disseminate accurate information around topics like COVID-19 and vaccines.
The finalists will present their solutions to a closed audience on April 28-29, 2021 and up to three winners will be selected to split an award of $250,000 USD. The winner(s) will be announced on May 11, 2021 during a special showcase at East Africa Com, one of the premier events for digital communications.
East Africa Com will also feature two panel discussions related to mis/disinformation
1. Working Across the Aisle – Building Partnerships to Counter Disinformation (Tuesday, May 11, 2021). This session will bring together senior leaders from across government, private sector, civil society, and media for a discussion around their ongoing efforts and collaborations in the counter-disinformation and propaganda space across Africa.
2. East Africa’s Battle for Information Access and Authenticity – (Wednesday, May 12, 2021). This panel will explore themes of digital freedoms, misinformation, real-world context, and tools for truth.