FactCheck Africa, an initiative of a Nigeria-based non-profit organisation, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), was launched in 2022 as an independent, non-partisan and non-profit fact-checking platform for Africans.

Speaking at the unveiling of the AI-powered platform on Monday, the Global Director of BBYDI, Abideen Olasupo, said MyAIFactChecker was a product of months of dedicated effort and research, with support from BECERA and the U.S State Department, noting that the initiative would revolutionalise how Africans verify news and other online information.

He added: “MyAIFactChecker is a demonstration of our organisation’s unwavering commitment to combating the scourge of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news, thereby safeguarding the integrity of information. This platform leverages cutting-edge AI technology, is user-friendly, and allows you to verify the authenticity of news, social media posts, and other online content quickly and conveniently.”

Olasupo further disclosed that the innovative platform would provide users with a range of functionalities, including a chatbot interface, feedback mechanism, and voice search capability that is available in English, Swahili, French, Arabic, and several popular local languages in Nigeria.

According to him, the launch of MyAIFactChecker comes at a critical time, as the proliferation of disinformation and harmful content continues to pose significant threats to the integrity of elections, democracy, public health, and stability in African nations.

The BBDYI global director, who said the impact of fake news and disinformation on elections could not be waved, expressed optimism that his organisation’s newly introduced AI fact-checking would help combat the spread of disinformation in African nations preparing to hold elections this year.

“It is worthy to note that 2024 is a year of elections in Africa as about 24 countries on the continent will hold elections this year. During electioneering periods, there is always a proliferation of fake news, and its attendant consequences could negatively impact the electoral process. With the launch of MyAIFactChecker, we are poised to curb the spread of misinformation and disinformation before, during, and after elections in these affected countries.

“We believe that access to accurate information is a fundamental right, and we are dedicated to empowering individuals with the tools to discern truth from falsehood in this digital age. We will continue to promote media literacy and critical thinking across Africa,” he said.

Continuing, Olasupo who attended the 2024 United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum held in New York last week, where he spoke on ‘The ethical use of AI and its implications for education in Africa’, said his organisation would continue to push for policies around ethical use of AI in Nigeria and Africa as a whole to maximise its benefits and mitigate its risks.

He lauded Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, for spearheading the initiative to deliver a comprehensive Artificial Intelligence Strategy for the country, stressing that such endeavor was crucial in positioning Nigeria to effectively leverage AI for national development.

“In recognition of the immense potential of AI in addressing societal challenges, BBYDI will continue to advocate for policies and ethical frameworks to guide the deployment of AI technologies across Africa. It is imperative that we harness the power of AI for the collective good of our society,” he noted.

Earlier in his address, the Head of Programmes at FactCheck Africa, Habeeb Adisa said the introduction of the innovative AI solution “represents a significant advancement in our stride to fight the dissemination of fake news that continues to undermine societal trust and cause discord among people.

“Our platform is designed to cater for a diverse linguistic landscape across the continent. Users can simply enter a news query, and our platform will provide them with an assessment of the article’s authenticity. It will also let them know if it’s credible, partially credible, or unreliable.”

He also disclosed that FactCheck Africa had launched a 3-month AI Journalism Fellowship for journalists in West Africa. According to him, the fellowship is a comprehensive training programme that will equip selected journalists with the knowledge, skills, and ethical considerations needed to navigate AI in journalism.

Also speaking, the Executive Director of BBYDI, Nurah Jimoh-Sanni, stated that the unveiling of MyAIFactChecker reinforced the commitment of their organisation to leverage tech solutions and digital tools to address societal challenges.

She recalled that BBYDI last year, in collaboration with Christian Aid, organised the first CivicTech Hackathon in Nigeria to address voter apathy and encourage increased citizens’ participation in the electoral process.

“We also launched evit.ng to track and report violence pre and post-election. We also unveiled conflictreport.org to curb the farmer-herders crisis in the northern part of the country.

“Additionally, we introduced KnowCovid19NG with support from the US Embassy to flatten the curve and provide psychosocial support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years before the 2023 general elections, we launched Yvotenaija.org to promote civic education across grassroots communities and on various social media platforms,” Jimoh remarked.