- a brand new fact-checking website devised by the AFP Foundation
and run in partnership with the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand
- was launched on 31 October 2012. It is the first website in Africa set up exclusively to fact-check public debate and can be found at www.africacheck.org
"Fact-checking is a growing trend in the media, and in wider society, around the world. But to our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has tried to do something like this, here in Africa," said AFP Foundation deputy director Peter Cunliffe-Jones, who devised and oversees the project.
"For any society to function properly, people need access to reliable information and that includes Africa. Whether the claims people make are about health, politics or the economy, they should be checked properly and impartially. That's what we aim to do."
In addition to its own fact-checking reports, the site also provides tips and advice for its readers - be they from the media or elsewhere - on how to fact-check as well as a library of databases and fact-checking tools.
Based in the journalism department of Wits University, the project seeks to spread the skills and practice of fact-checking both among the students and among media houses across the country.
"I believe that Africa Check can make an important contribution to public discourse by promoting a culture of accuracy and making public figures think twice about playing loose with the facts," added Anton Harber, the Caxton Professor of Journalism at Wits, and a former editor of the South African Mail and Guardian, who is senior adviser to the project.
Initial funding to launch the project was awarded in May 2012 by the IPI News Innovation Contest, run by the Vienna-based International Press Institute and will fund the project to the end of this year.
The Open Society Foundation for South Africa has agreed funding for 2013. The project is currently a finalist in the African News Innovation Challenge, run by the African Media Initiative.
Speaking in support of the project, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said earlier this year: "I salute the work of Africa Check, as an important initiative engaging with journalists and citizens across the continent to raise the level of public debate."