Africa Check [PRESS RELEASE] New Executive Director and board at Africa Check

Africa Check has announced a new incoming executive director and eight-member board, made up of leading figures from across South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal.

Africa Check, the continent’s leading independent fact-checking organisation, on Wednesday announced the nomination of an incoming executive director and a new eight-member board, made up of leading figures from across South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal.

On 1 June, seven years after Africa’s first fact-checking organisation was set up, current deputy director Noko Makgato will take up the role of executive director, replacing the founder, Peter Cunliffe-Jones.

“Founding executive director Peter Cunliffe-Jones has laid a solid foundation for this important organisation to build on. Having worked with the new executive director, Noko Makgato, for some years, I know we are in solid hands to consolidate and grow further. Noko has laid out excellent plans for the coming years and I am confident we will bring them to fruition,” said board chairperson Anton Harber.

At the same time, the organisation unveiled a new, eight-member governing board of the Africa Check Trust, which oversees Africa Check’s growing operations across the continent.

Chaired by University of the Witwatersrand Journalism professor Anton Harber, the board includes Cami Mbulawa, an SA-based executive with investment advisers RisCura as Treasurer, Dapo Olorunyomi, the publisher of the Premium Times and former chief of staff at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria, Karien Bezuidenhout, a director of the Shuttleworth Foundation, Mandla Mchunu, the former Chief Electoral Officer of South Africa and chairman of the AfriCore group, Pamella Sittoni, the Executive Editor of the Daily Nation in Kenya, Paula Fray, the founder of FrayIntermedia in South Africa, and Tidiane Sy, the head of the EJICOM journalism school in Senegal.

Set up in 2012 in South Africa to reduce the spread of misinformation and promote evidence-based understanding, Africa Check today works in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal, checking the accuracy of hundreds of key claims made each year on leading topics.

As well as publishing its reports on its own site, it distributes its fact-checks via partnerships with numerous media houses and is working directly with Facebook to reduce the spread of misinformation on the largest social media platform.

Since 2014, Africa Check has run an annual awards ceremony to support the growth of fact-checking by the media. And since 2015, when it launched its training and research commercial unit TRi Facts, it has trained almost 2,000 journalists and others around Africa in fact-checking, to build a culture of fact-checking in the media. In 2017, it set up the African fact-checking network to support emerging independent fact-checking operations such as Congo Check in DRC, Dubawa in Nigeria, PesaCheck in Kenya and ZimFact in Zimbabwe.

“When the public and policy-makers make decisions based on misinformation, it can bring real harm,” said out-going executive director Peter Cunliffe-Jones. “In 2012, we were the only independent fact-checking organisation operating on the continent and working in just one country. Today, we have teams in four countries and are working with a growing number of partners around Africa. In June, we will welcome colleagues from fact-checking organisations around the world to Cape Town – the first time the Global Fact meeting has been held in Africa. The gathering pace of change is thanks to both a hard-working team and the recognition by so many partners and allies of the real importance and need for the work we do.”

Africa Check is the African representative of the advisory board of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), the standards body of the fact-checking movement, based at the Poynter Institute in the United States.

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