Africa Check

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Africa Check
Non-profit organisation
FoundedJune 2012; 7 years ago (2012-06)
South Africa
Area served
South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal
Key people
  • Peter Cunliffe-Jones (Executive director)
  • Anim van Wyk (Editor)
  • David Ajikobi (Nigeria editor)
  • Alphonce Shiundu (Kenya editor)
Assane Diagne (Francophone Editor)
ServicesFact checking

Africa Check is a non-profit fact checking organisation set up in 2012 to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa. The organisation's goal is to raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.[1][2] Africa Check is an independent organisation with offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, Dakar and London, producing reports in English and French testing claims made by public figures, institutions and the media against the best available evidence.[1]


Africa Check was launched after it won an International Press Institute news innovation contest sponsored by Google.[2] It was modelled after and and is the first website in South Africa to focus only on fact checking.[3]

Africa Check's main team is based in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, where they currently have a full-time fact-checking team of five members, along with fundraising, training and research services and a head of digital communication.

In October 2015, Africa Check established a fact-checking team based at the EJICOM school of journalism in Dakar, Senegal. The Dakar team operates Africa Check's French-language website. Africa Check has also opened regional offices in Lagos, Nigeria (in 2016) and Nairobi, Kenya (in 2017).[4]

Fact checks in the new media[edit]

Africa Check is known for its work on fact-checking viral claims made about South Africa on Facebook, such as a claim in 2013 that South Africa was "worse off now than 19 years ago."[5][6] Sixteen claims about South Africa were investigated including claims such as "unemployment in South Africa has increased by over 60% in the past 19 years", South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world, and South Africa is one of the top-ten countries in the world for murder. Regarding these claims, Africa Check found that South Africa's unemployment rate has increased from 20% to 24.7% during the last 19 years, an increase of 23.5%, so the claim of a 60% increase was false.[5] They could not substantiate the claim that South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world, but they reported that it is probably true that South Africa is in the top ten countries for highest murder rates.[5]

Africa Check has also debunked claims of "herbal cures" for HIV/AIDS that have spread in Africa, noting that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of any of these claimed remedies.[7]

In South Africa, there has been some debate about whether South African farm attacks are an organised genocide against white South African farmers or whether the rate of attacks and murders is consistent with the overall murder rate in South Africa.[8] Africa Check reported that the current murder rate of whites is less than the murder rate of other racial groups in South Africa and that it is less than the murder rate for whites from 1979 to 1991, which was during the apartheid era and drawing into question the claim of genocide.[8][9]

Originating with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008, the claim that 80% of South Africans use traditional healers has been spread by the news media worldwide.[10] Africa Check found that this claim was greatly exaggerated and that the claim could be traced to an unsubstantiated claim made in 1983 WHO documents.[10]

Africa Check has objected to the notion of claiming particular places are "rape capitals of the world". According to Africa Check, it is not possible to make such comparisons because different countries have different legal definitions of rape, methods of collecting data of rapes, and levels of reporting rape. All of these issues make exact comparisons of rape rates across countries because the data a currently too unreliable.[11]

It also has a dedicated platform - the InfoFinder - with reliable sources of information from different African countries.[12]

African Fact-checking Awards[edit]

Africa Check has been running the continent's first African Fact-checking Awards.[13] In their first year, 2014, the awards were won by two journalists from Ghana,[14] and the runners-up came from Kenya and Zambia. In 2015, the winner came from Nigeria[15] and runner-up from South Africa. In 2016, Africa Check created an awards category for reports published in the Francophone media. That year, the awards were won by journalists from Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire,[16] with runners-up from Nigeria and Swaziland.

In 2017, Africa Check added a student category,[13] as fact-checking continues to become an essential skill.

Methods of fact-checking[edit]

Identify the exact claim that is to be verified. Contact the person who makes the claim to ask them about the source or proof of their claim. Then fact-checkers must turn to experts in the field to add nuance and context. Afterwards authors write their reports, setting out the evidence step by step and indicating the sources used. The manuscript is passed on to an editor for review. Only one a verdict is agreed, is the article published.[12]


Africa Check is registered as a non-profit trust in South Africa and as a community interest company in Britain.[17]

Africa Check was established by a £45,648 initial grant in 2012.[17] The Agence France-Presse (AFP) Foundation,[18] and the University of the Witwatersrand provided funding.[19]

In 2016, it raised slightly below £473,000.[17] In 2016, Africa Check's major donors were the Shuttleworth Foundation (26% of income), Omidyar Network (23%), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (13%), the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) (12%), and the Millennium Trust (9%), and Agence France-Presse (5%).[17] In 2016, Africa Check earned about 6% of its income from TRI Facts, its commercial Training, Research & Information unit, which provides commercial services. Other non-profits make up smaller percentages of income, and about 1% of income comes from individual donors.[17]


  1. ^ a b Rick, Lyman (23 July 2013). "Nonpartisan Fact-Checking Comes to South Africa". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b Rachel, Bartlett (13 August 2013). "Checking the facts: Africa Check expands to new countries". Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  3. ^ Peter, Cox (7 August 2013). "Fledgling Website Brings Fact Checking to South Africa". Voice of America. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  4. ^ "People: Our team". Africa Check. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Africa Check: The truth behind THAT viral Facebook post about SA". Daily Maverick. 28 November 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  6. ^ Kate, Wilkinson, Sintha Chiumia (28 November 2013). "Is Facebook post that SA is worse off now than 19 years ago true?". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  7. ^ Peter, Cunliffe-Jones (2 December 2013). "Africa Check: No scientific evidence to back claims of breakthrough cures for HIV/AIDS". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b Harriet, Mann (1 October 2013). "Protest against 'slaughter of whites' in South Africa heads to London". The South African. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  9. ^ Baobab Correspondent (3 July 2013). "Getting the facts straight". The Economist. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  10. ^ a b Kate, Wilkinson. "Use of traditional healers vastly exaggerated". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Africa Check: Why it is wrong to call South Africa, or any country, the 'rape capital of the world'". Daily Maverick. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  12. ^ a b "Fighting for honesty". D+C. 21 April 2018.
  13. ^ a b "African Fact-checking Awards - Honouring the best fact-checking work".
  14. ^ "Ghanaian journalist wins first African Fact-Checking Awards".
  15. ^ "PREMIUM TIMES journalist wins 2015 African Fact-Checking Awards - Premium Times Nigeria". 13 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Cote d'Ivoire , Cameroon top winners at African Fact-Checking Awards". SABC News. 9 December 2016. Archived from the original on 10 December 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e "How we are funded". Africa Check. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  18. ^ "AFP Fondation's African fact-checking project a winner of African News Innovation Challenge". AFP Foundation. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  19. ^ Jessica, Weiss (20 June 2013). "Site sorts fact from fiction in South Africa". International Journalists' Network. Retrieved 7 December 2013.

External links[edit]