Rules & Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the African News Innovation Challenge?
The African News Innovation Challenge, or ANIC, is a pan-African contest that aims to accelerate innovation in news organisations by funding transformational ideas and then continuing to support them through a network of peers and advisors. ANIC is modelled on the highly successful Knight News Challenge in the USA, but has been customised to address the challenges facing African media.

2. What is the African Media Initiative?
The African Media Initiative, or AMI, is the lead organisation driving ANIC.  AMI is not an NGO or donor organisation.  It is an industry association, and is Africa’s largest umbrella body of media owners and executives.  AMI’s mandate is to serve as a catalyst for strengthening African media, by building the tools, knowledge, and technical capacity for the media to play an effective  ‘public interest’ role in African society.  This mandate includes assisting with the development of professional standards, financial sustainability, technological adaptability, and civic engagement.  AMI believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.  For more, visit

3. What kind of projects are you looking for?
This is the inaugural call for entries for ANIC, and we are therefore casting the net wide.  We are looking for new ways to create, discuss and share news.  And we are also looking for new ways to make quality journalism sustainable.  This could include new revenue or production models, new ways to gather and produce news, or new ways to reach audiences.  Most importantly, we are looking for ideas that can be scaled continentally, or that can be replicated elsewhere, to create maximum impact.  We will also give preference to ideas that seek to solve realworld challenges facing Africa’s media.

4. Do I have to be African to be eligible?
No.  Proposals can be submitted by news pioneers from anywhere in the world.  You do have to have an African media partner, however, who will help you develop and test your innovation.  Also, innovations that are designed to be primarily deployed in Africa will stand a better chance of receiving support.

5. What is the process for applying?
The only place you can apply is here on the ANIC website.  We will not accept faxes, posted applications, hand deliveries or other channels.  All you need to do is answer the 7 questions on the form.  Brevity counts.  Any supporting media, videos, links to prototypes, etc, can be included with the post, but are not required.  The deadline for submissions is July 10 (midnight – Central African Time).  No late submissions will be accepted.  We will contact semi-finalists for additional information, including a detailed budget, by early August.

6. What if I don’t want my idea to be public?
We believe that ideas get better when they are publically available for discussion and feedback.  Innovators who engage with the wider media community and prove widespread support for their ideas through public discussion will be at an advantage during judging.  However, we understand that you might have competitive concerns and will therefore accept “closed” applications via email.  Please follow these three simple steps to submit your “closed” application:

  1. Write the title of your project, the name of your contact person, and their phone number in the subject line.
  2. Copy and paste the questions and answers to the application form into the body of your email.
  3. Send your email to [email protected]

7. What aspects of a project’s budget can be funded by an ANIC grant?
ANIC grants are meant to fund the costs associated with designing, developing and implementing your idea. ANIC grants can also be used to fund marketing and promotion of your prototypes, or help you deploy the first versions of your idea. ANIC’s policies prevent funds from being used to pay universities’ “overhead” costs, any salary costs, or organisation costs not directly linked to the development of your idea.

8. How important are public comments?
Because this is a contest focused on developing ‘real world’ solutions to real challenges faced by real media, we strongly encourage you to engage in conversation with others about your idea. We believe such discussions benefit both the public viewers and the applicants. In evaluating your ability to conduct your project, we will also look at your ability to encourage support for, and critiques of, your idea on the ANIC website and elsewhere online.

9. Who decides which projects win the contest?
ANIC’s trustees make the final determinations based on recommendations by the international ANIC jury. We may also employ outside technical experts to help the jury review applications as may be appropriate. These reviewers serve as advisors only.

10. Would an issue-oriented site – say one about energy and the environment – qualify?
Yes, but only if it demonstrates new strategies or technologies for strengthening the media or the way that audiences engage with the media.

11. How about projects focused on training?
ANIC will not fund conferences or other events. A project that includes training may win – but not if training is the core focus of the project.

12. How about projects focused on revenue models?
Yes, they definitely qualify. ANIC is interested in pragmatic ideas that explore new revenue streams or business models that help media diversify away from a reliance on advertising or subscription revenue.

13. Would you fund the expansion of an existing, successful project?
Yes, if you would like funding to prove your concept and scale up to other localities.

14. Must my project use open-source software?
Our preference is for open source or creative commons approaches, but they are not an absolute requirement. We also accept proposals that rely on proprietary software.

15. What do you really mean by “open source”?
By “open-source” we mean software that is available for anyone to use or build upon at the conclusion of the grant period. You will own your platform, but you will have to share the software you develop under a GNU General Public License (GPL) and any documents, manuals or instructions under Creative Commons licensing. We consider exceptions to these requirements on a case-by-case basis.


16. Who can enter?
ANIC is an open and worldwide contest. Anyone, anywhere can therefore apply – as long as they have an African partner to help with implementation. There is no other age or geographic restriction. The competition is open to nonprofits, for-profits or individuals of any age, anywhere in the world. Awards to minors will be made to an intermediary designated by ANIC.

17. Can for-profit companies apply to ANIC?
Yes. We have different types of funding mechanisms for different types of organisations. Each funding mechanism has different requirements.

  1. Grants to nonprofits
  2. Grants to for-profits
  3. Programme Related Investments (PRIs)
  4. Mission Related Investments from the AMI Enterprise Fund

In general terms, if you win the contest, you’ll own the copyright on your intellectual property, including your software. But in most of the four types of funding, you will need to share the software you developed under a GNU General Public License and any documents, manuals or instructions under Creative Commons licensing.

Grants to nonprofits have an open source requirement. Any software developed with grant funds has to be open source. If a grant is made to a business, both the initial and future releases of the code need to be open source. The business receiving a grant agrees to bind itself to the open source license it owns as if it were a licensee.

Programme Related Investments, or PRIs from AMI, which are no-interest, five year-loans, are generally structured as Convertible Notes instead of a traditional grant. If a PRI is made, only the initial release must be open source, and future versions can be licensed in different ways. At the end of the funding period, the company can pay back the funds it received or AMI can take a stake in the company.

18. Can I partner with another individual or organisation?
Yes. We encourage collaborations. Not having a partner does not count against you, though.

19. I am already the recipient of support from AMI. Can I still apply to ANIC?
Yes. We are unlikely to fund a project that is already receiving AMI support, but that should not preclude you from submitting proposals for new or unrelated projects.

20. If I apply to this inaugural call for entries on ANIC, will I still be able to apply for other forms of AMI support?

21. How many times can I enter?
As many as you like.

22. I’m not a software developer or a designer, but I think I’ve got a good new idea. Should I apply?
The project has to use digital media, but you do not have to be a coder. We have, however, found that the success of News Challenge projects is likely to increase when they have tech expertise as part of the team – so it might be worth looking for a technical partner.


23. What is the deadline for entry?
July 10, 2012 at midnight (Central African Time). You might want to use something like World Time Buddy to make sure that you get the time right.

24. When will I receive a response?

The dates below are guidelines. Their intention is to give you an idea of the timeframe of the process.

  • May 10, 2012: Contest opens
  • July 10, 2012: Application deadline
  • August 10, 2012: Finalists are at the OpenNews Camp, in Zanzibar
  • September 10, 2012: Finalists submit their final proposals and budget plans
  • November 10, 2012: Winners are announced at the African Media Leaders Forum in Dakar, Senegal.

25. When do I get my money and start the project?
Awards will be distributed in 2012. AMI, which administers ANIC, will work out a schedule with each winner. Our intention is to distribute first payments within 60 days of the project’s approval.

26. When will winners be announced?
November 10, 2012.


27. Where do I send my entry?
The application process is online. Please apply here, on the ANIC portal.

28. Where should my project take place?
Anywhere in Africa.

29. Do particular regions have an advantage?

30. Where in the world do you accept entries from?
Everywhere, as long as the project has an African partner and is implemented in Africa.

31. Do projects have to be in English-speaking countries?
No. Applications will be accepted in English, French, Portuguese or Arabic. Projects can be deployed in any African language.


32. Why should I enter?

  • Because you have a big idea and you want to bring it to life
  • Because you want to do something that improves people’s lives
  • Because it is easy to apply


33. How can I improve the chances of my application being successful?
State the essence of your idea briefly and clearly.
Ask someone who is not familiar with your project to review your application for clarity.
Make sure your application fits within the themes outlined on the ANIC home page.
Encourage others to engage with and discuss your idea online.

34. How much do you expect me to talk about my idea’s sustainability in my application?
We have found that projects have a greater likelihood of success when there is a plan for sustaining them after the award runs out.

35. If salaries/human resources are a significant component of my project, how do I think about wages?
Do your research. Examine the budgets of organisations or individuals doing projects similar to the one you want to develop.

36. How many entries may I submit?
There is no limit. Just make sure you submit separate ideas as separate entries. Do not roll them all up into one.


37. I have extra supporting files to attach. Where do I put them?
Any media, videos, links to prototypes, etc. can be included with the post using the ANIC website’s functionality. Such material is not required, however. Only the answers to the 7 questions on the form are required.

38. What kind of supporting materials should I attach?
The supporting materials or attachments should be any documents you think would add valuable information about your project that reviewers can use to better understand how your idea meets the ANIC criteria. Past participants have provided documents that range from their logo to business plans. We focus our assessment of your idea on your answers to the 7 questions on the application form.

39. Can anyone see my application?
Yes. Your application will be publicly available on the web for anyone to read, like, share and comment upon. Should you not want your idea to be open to the public, please follow these three simple steps to submit your “closed” application:

  1. Write the title of your project, name and phone number in the subject line.
  2. Copy and paste the questions and answers to the application form into the body of your email.
  3. Send your email to [email protected].

40. In what file formats may I upload supporting documents?
File uploads must be one of the following:

  • Photo: JPEG, GIF, PNG or BMP. Max size: 10 MB
  • Audio: MP3s only. Max size: 10 MB
  • 5:00 minutes of video per day. Max size: 100MB per file.


41. I heard that employees of the African Media Initiative (AMI) or ANIC’s sponsors / partners are not eligible to enter.
That is right. No one who is an employee of either AMI or its partners in ANIC may enter to avoid any impression of conflict of interest or insider dealing.

42. If two people enter as a team, who receives the money?
The award money would be distributed to both applicants. Each person would have equal claim to the funds unless they agree between themselves, and tell us clearly, that they wish for different distribution.

43. Are winnings taxable?
Because individual situations vary, you need to consult a professional tax advisor on this issue.

44. What if my project fails?
We will work with you to help you succeed by leveraging our networks and expertise. While failure is not our aim, it is a great way to learn.

45. Can someone “steal” my idea?
That could happen. We find that the value of being open about your idea outweighs the drawbacks.

46. Can I claim a piece of someone else’s prize if I give them the idea that propels their project to win?
When you comment on an entry, do so with the understanding that you are not creating any ownership rights for yourself.

47. Do I hold the intellectual property rights for my idea?
It all depends on what type of funding you receive. i.e. 1. Grant, 2. Programme Related Investment, 3. Mission Related Investment. Read more about AMI’s Intellectual Property Policy.

48. So can we only use open-source software as part of our project?
Everything developed using grant funds has to be open source, but you can use proprietary software such as Twitter. If your project involves proprietary software, we have other funding instruments, such as a Programme Related Investment or a Mission Related Investment, to offer. Our preference is to support open source projects. Read more about AMI’s Intellectual Property Policy. You can ask specific questions about this by emailing [email protected].

49. What if I have an idea similar to one that AMI has funded in the past, but I think I’ve got a better solution?
Please apply!

50. Each question in the application has a word limit, but I pasted in more.
When answering the 7 questions, please be brief and follow the word count. We recommend you draft your answers, edit them and count the words in a Word document and then copy and paste them into the online application form. This allows you to have a copy in case something goes wrong and helps you count the words of your answers accurately.

51. I have some friends who are university administrators with a question about indirect costs. What do I tell them?
AMI and ANIC do not pay indirect administrative fees to grantee organisations.

52. What does a grant agreement look like? What are the provisions?
Please see: Sample Grant Agreement.

53. What does a Programme Related Investment Term Sheet look like?
Please see: PRI Term Sheet.

54. What is AMI’s intellectual property licensing policy?
AMI’s intellectual property (IP) licensing policy seeks to use IP terms and conditions in its agreements that allow projects to achieve their highest possible impact and AMI’s highest social return on investment. This licensing policy also aims to increase the transparency of grant outcomes by allowing for greater sharing of knowledge and adoption among user communities. The specific type of license required by AMI depends on the type of IP being created, the type of organisation receiving the support and the specific objectives of the project.

In general, non-charitable organisations (for-profits or individuals) receiving a grant must use the most permissible IP licenses. In addition to licensing the IP, non-charitable organisations will also be licensees themselves and so subject to the terms of the license for any future versions of the IP. If non-charitable organisations receive a Programme Related Investment (PRI) they are not required to be licensees.

PRIs from AMI are generally structured as Convertible Notes instead of a traditional grant. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have questions regarding PRIs.

55. What are the specific IP terms used by AMI in the different type of agreements?
Please see “Intellectual Property Licensing Policy

56. Can you be more specific about… ?
We probably could. If you’re confused about something, please don’t hesitate to ask. But after you’ve decided your idea meets this round’s focus, the absolute best way to tell whether it’s appropriate for the challenge is to … apply for the challenge. We don’t want to get so specific with our guidelines that we prevent you from submitting the next great idea. So if you think the idea fits, send it in.

57. What if this FAQ didn’t answer my question?
Feel free to Tweet questions about #AfricanNewsChallenge, @afnewschallenge, or email to [email protected].


Our Mission

To support digital innovation and experimentation that seeks to improve the quality and impact of African journalism by using new digital tools and techniques for ‘making’ news, new ways for audiences to engage with news, and new models for media organisations to sustain themselves.