Small Grants to Produce Localized Internet Shutdown Resources

What is OPTIMA?

OPTIMA is Internews’ program that supports collaboratively developed resources to enable more strategic, coordinated, cross-sectoral and replicable responses to major instances of network interference (i.e. internet shutdowns) in Africa. 

Small Grants

We are excited to announce the launch of OPTIMA’s small grants pool, which offers funding for the development or enhancement of resources, tools, and guides to better equip advocates in Sub-Saharan Africa to prevent, prepare for and respond to internet shutdowns in their countries.

Internews’ OPTIMA Small Grants Application

Grants will be between $1,000 and $5,000 USD each, and must support the creation of tangible resources that other individuals/groups can use to strengthen their work in either preventing or responding to internet shutdowns. Proposed projects could take a number of forms, including (but not limited to):

  • Case study research to provide best practices and recommendations on how to respond to a shutdown
  • Resources to improve advocacy approaches and outreach to relevant stakeholders such as government bodies, ISPs, and other important actors
  • Guides on using circumvention tools during shutdowns, fighting shutdowns in courts, or measuring and documenting shutdowns
  • Translations of existing resources and guides for specific contexts, audiences, or languages
  • Training curricula relevant to predicting, preventing, or responding to an internet shutdown

The most important consideration is that these must be resources that can be used by others in the internet freedom community – meaning that academic research with no applicationor projects that focus on specific advocacy campaigns may be ineligible. Materials can be produced in any language.

Basic requirements

These funds are available solely to individuals or organizations interested in developing targeted, localized, and issue-specific resources to contribute to a growing community capable of responding to Internet shutdowns in Africa. Applicants must be based in Sub-Saharan Africa, or propose projects specifically targeting the region. Applicants can apply to supplement their existing project, or to translate/update/localize an existing resource that they did not create (if it is under Creative Commons or with permission from the creator).

Projects must fall into one of the following four funding categories:

  1. Network Measurement
  2. Legal Resources
  3. Multistakeholder Engagement
  4. Circumvention Tools, Guides, and Resources

Countries of focus

Resources must be applicable for use in Sub-Saharan Africa. Resources that are created for use in specific countries (including localization or translation of resources into relevant languages) will be given precedent: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia,  Kenya, Mauritania, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda,  Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Submissions will be accepted between November 20 and December 21, 2020. Projects should be no longer than 3 months in duration, with the possibility of a 2-month extension after that time. Grants will be reviewed by Internews, in conjunction with members of OPTIMA’s Advisory Committee. Projects may begin as early as January 1 and run through March 31, 2021.  

Grants must be only between $1,000 and $5,000 USD.

Have any additional questions?

Send them to: Benjamin Whitehead, Senior Program Associate for Global Technology

APPLY HERE: Internews’ OPTIMA Small Grants Application