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A New Frontier for the Global South

The Fund for Internet Research and Education—FIRE—is an initiative of AFRINIC that gives Grants and Awards to outstanding projects that use the Internet to provide innovative solutions to Africa’s unique education, information, infrastructure, and communication needs. FIRE Africa is part of an initiative called The Seed Alliance that has LACNIC’s FRIDA Program, APNIC’s ISIF.Asia program, and the Internet Society as members.

Over the past 5 years, the Seed Alliance has supported 116 projects from 57 countries. It has also held capacity building workshops to hundreds of participants in various Regional Internet Registry (RIR) meetings, and other international fora like the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and ICT4D meetings. The total funding to date is about US$2.2 in Grants and Awards throughout Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.

The RIRs have proven that they are competent in running impressive development initiatives, and they are very committed in changing their respective communities.

Previous projects in Africa include:

  • carDispo – an app linking users and taxis in Cameroon.
  • NatiV – a Shona language Early Learner Android application which uses text to speech to enable children in rural Zimbabwe learn to read using their own languages.
  • Farmerline – linking Ghanaian farmers to markets.
  • EpharmacyNet – using a mobile virtual community for telemedicine and mail order pharmacies in Benin.
  • Asonga Kuchio – empowering parents and children in Kenya with online safety skills.
    • Grants 2016 This year the Grants are bigger and more ambitious with funding ranging from $25,000 to $30,000 per project. Previous successful projects which show potential for growth and self sustainability can apply for scale up Grants to move to the next level of their cycle. The application cycle is open now and Projects aligned with Technical Innovation, Community Development, Governance Enhancement, and Education, Internet Security or Access Provision will be given preference. The Vision of AFRINIC is to scale up the FIRE Africa program by getting more partners, and also ensuring greater oversight, monitoring and evaluation of existing projects, mentoring and capacity building of members of the African community to ensure their projects have maximum positive impact in providing solutions within the continent. The success of FIRE Africa has been made possible by the generous sponsorship from IDRC, Internet Society, SIDA and Google. AFRINIC is always open to new ideas, and welcome new partners onboard by reaching out through [email protected] With such initiatives in Africa, the narrative of the continent is changing to that of hope and opportunities. Africa Rising. @fireafrica

By Mwendwa Kivuva, Internet Governance enthusiast

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