By Olatunde Ajayi
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.
In a statement on Tuesday through its Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan, Google said it had teamed up with some organisations across the continent to boost efforts and develop programmes around online safety.
It said that in aligning with the theme of this year’s global Safer Internet Day, “Together for a better Internet”, Google.org offered free online safety books and government collaborations for Safer Internet Day.
“With an estimated 346 million internet users that came online for the first time in 2020 and 376 million new social media users, there is no better time for us to help people stay safe online.
“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,’’ it said.
Google added that in administering 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 non-profit organisations operating in Africa.
“Twenty six social impact organisations across nine African countries have been selected to receive grants of up to 100,000 dollars 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,” it said.
Google also said that it had collaborated with a Nigerian author, Nomthi Odukoya, to create a children’s online safety book entitled: “How to be Safe Online’’.
It said that physical copies of the book would be distributed to 30,000 learners in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa this month, adding that the book was 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.
“We look forward to continued empowerment of teachers, parents and guardians with tools to keep children safe online.”
Gooogle said it was also collaborating with government bodies in ensuring necessary backing to make the internet better for all users across the continent.
“We 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 to make the internet better for all users.”