Africa needed an organisation dedicated to holding public figures accountable for what they said, and debunking dangerous false statements.
Facts matter. Every day across Africa, people make decisions, big and small. To do this, they rely on publicly available information. Often that information is misleading or just plain wrong.
Rumours that the polio vaccine caused infertility and was part of a plot to reduce the Muslim population rippled across northern Nigeria in 2002 and 2003.
The baseless claims were shared in communities and believed by leaders of several states in the region, who then fomented a boycott of the vaccination campaign against polio. This led to a surge in cases.
Compounding the problem of public distrust was that the media reported these claims without interrogating them.
By the time the harmful claims were withdrawn, the damage had been done. The devastating disease, which was on the retreat worldwide, spread to other West African countries, and the world.
The impact of this false information in Nigeria made it clear that Africa needed an organisation dedicated to holding public figures accountable for what they said, and debunking dangerous false statements.
What we do
Our holistic approach to fact-checking includes publishing reports and factsheets, media literacy, running awards and training journalists
Improving public debate and strengthening democracy depends on our work having a sustainable impact. We rigorously track and measure progress towards these goals
Philanthropic organisations and private donors support us in the fight against misinformation in Africa by providing financial support. Do you want to join them?
How it all started
Africa Check, the continent’s first independent nonprofit fact-checking organisation, supported by philanthropic organisations and individual donors, was established in South Africa in 2012. This team has debunked inflammatory statements about the number of foreign nationals in the country and revealed errors in the national crime statistics.
Africa Check's francophone office, established in Senegal in 2015, led to an international health agency correcting information it shared about teen pregnancies.
Our offices in Nigeria, set up in 2016, and Kenya, opened in 2017, have set the record straight on important issues such as “child prostitution” and the extent of chronic depression.
Collectively, our team of nearly 40 has published more than 1,300 fact-check reports and fact-checked over 1,800 claims, published 180 factsheets and 47 guides on contested issues and trained 4,500 journalists on verification best practices. More than 17 million people have visited our website, viewing over 23.5 million pages.
Through our work we seek to reduce the spread and impact of misinformation and promote accurate, evidence-based understanding in the public, governments and media. This will ultimately strengthen democracy, foster engaged citizenship and improve life outcomes across the continent.
The Africa Check team
Africa Check's head office is based at the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. We also have offices in Nairobi, Kenya; Dakar, Senegal; and Lagos, Nigeria.