Reporting Grants on Digital Identity Data and Technology in Africa

Reporting Grants on Digital Identity Data and Technology in Africa

Reporting Grants on Digital Identity Data and Technology in Africa

The Africa-China Reporting Project (ACRP or the Project) at Wits Journalism, with support from Omidyar Network, are seeking proposals from journalists for its reporting grants and workshop to investigate issues related to digital identification, data privacy, and technology in Africa.


The following themes can guide journalists to identify specific topics for investigating issues around digital identity in the African context:

  • Regional, national and community government-issued IDs (e.g. plans/promises, purposes/rationales, best practices and challenges, public reactions and experiences, lessons for and application in African countries);
  • Private sector data practices (e.g. industry approaches to data protection, consent, privacy policies, cyber security, data sharing,

    Know-Your-Customer requirements, technology innovations, compliance with regulation, breaches, penalties and positive incentives);

  • Governance, regulations, transparency, and accountability (e.g. privacy and data protection laws, CCTV/surveillance laws, standards, codes of conduct, independent oversight at regional or continent-wide levels, grievance processes, procurement processes, litigation, budgets, public engagement, access and representation, data bill of rights, data trusts);
  • Technology innovations and start-up companies (e.g. privacy-by-design approach; “reg tech”; the promise of blockchain; the implications of biometrics, “adtech”; privacy-protecting tools; encryption; identities traded on the dark web; de-identification; open-source code; the benefits and unintended consequences of how technology is used or consumed; ethical uses of technology and data; social credit scoring algorithms; artificial intelligence to sharpen identification; hacking; locally developed solutions; futuristic technologies not yet on the market that digitally identify people);
  • Foreign partnerships and investors (e.g. private companies’ data collection, data localization, African perspectives on such collaborations, technology transfers, adoption of systems first piloted outside of Africa, Chinese firms’ AI-based identification systems drawing on CCTV and government ID databases);
  • Development and security agendas and human rights (e.g. data for good, inclusion, discrimination-by-design,

    IDs for migrants and refugees, citizenship/immigration issues, humanitarian crises, links to poverty alleviation and youth empowerment, African perspectives on the freedoms enabled or put at risk by a digital identity);

  • Risks and harms (e.g. use of identity information that results in surveillance, exclusion, manipulation, discrimination, oppression, violence, financial loss and reputation issues, distrust and power imbalances);
  • Trends and research (e.g. emerging issues and use cases across communities, rise of self-asserted IDs, customer preferences, trust in institutions, breaches and identity theft, fraud, technology failure);
  • Privacy and user control (e.g. an African perspective on privacy, privacy as a fundamental right/public good vs. fee-based service, consumer rights, the commercialisation of our identities, treating African data as an African resource, experiences with data ownership, Africa-based data agents/fiduciaries).

    Benefits The Project will provide reporting grants of up to US$1,000 to successful applicants, who will also participate in a Digital Identity Training Workshop and the Civic Tech Innovation Forum in Johannesburg during the week of 28 October 2019.

    What is digital identity?

    Travel, trade, and communication are now boundless because of technology, the Internet, and innovation. Yet they are also increasingly dependent on the use of personal data such as national IDs, mobile numbers, income and payment histories, social relationships and transactions, location, biometric information, and other identifying artifacts.

    They collect revealing bits of data and use them to verify and authenticate their identity and eligibility for services as well as to build trust and support transactions between people, businesses, and governments.

    Eligibility Criteria

  • Applications are open to all journalists who present Africa-focused proposals;
  • Applicants need not necessarily have previous reporting experience in this area;

    How to Apply

  • Applications must be sent to the address given on the website.
  • Applications should contain the following (only documents in MS Word or PDF formats will be accepted):
  • Applicant CV;
  • Brief proposal outlining: story to be investigated with clear headline; story relevance and significance, investigation methodology,
  • proposed publication/platform,
  • List of previously published reporting.

    Apply by 20th September.

    For more information and application details, see; Reporting Grants on Digital Identity Data and Technology in Africa

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