It’s been over sixty days since we began working from home as the jamlab Africa team based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The past two months have been nothing short of challenging and exciting. We’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and thinking what the future holds for us, personally, journalism and media in Africa and this project. It then dawned on me that May 29 marks three full years since this project began.

The founding purpose of the lab is to support innovation that grows and transforms journalism and media in Africa, developing media that meets the needs of more audiences through innovation, entrepreneurship and research.

As we put it at the time of our launch, our vision is to support innovators who brought new information, new conversations and new ideas to new audiences. We sought to do this through three mutually re-enforcing principles: an accelerator programme supporting teams to develop new media ventures, products and services; a knowledge programme that would document and publicise innovations and learning’s from the lab as well as innovations from across the African continent; and an events programme that could begin to build a community of practice which could extend support for innovation to a wider group of journalists and media professionals.


Knowledge programme

Our audience and following on our newsletter and social media platforms continue to grow in leaps and bounds. When we started this programme, our goal was not to just to publish stories but to also share stories. We had hoped to contribute to a growing network of innovators and to help build a ‘community of practice’ of media makers that can support each other by sharing advice and experience. Over the past three years, we have documented journalism and media innovations from Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Burundi, and Ghana. We hope to continue on this trend and grow this network even further. To do this, we are calling for journalists to submit proposals for in-depth reporting on subjects surrounding journalism and media innovations and innovators in Africa.

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Accelerator Programme

In 2017, we launched and ran the first and only journalism and media accelerator programme for media startups in South Africa. We have since mentored 16 teams on three iterations of the programme, of which women led most of these ventures. The current cohort will complete their time on the programme at the end of July 2020. Five of the teams from the accelerator have gone onto receive placements and funding from the South African Media Innovation Program and other funders and partners. In the next few weeks we will begin to prepare to launch two more programmes. This is another exciting milestone for us so be sure to look out for more information in future newsletters.


Community of Practice

Over the past three years we’ve held various events ranging from understanding fake news threats; entrepreneurship; roles of tech hubs innovation and entrepreneurship, just to name a few. Before the pandemic put a stop to our plans, we had envisioned to host Jamfest, a festival aimed at rewiring and rebooting digital media in Africa in mid-March. We have since postponed the event and if the crisis persists we hope to host at least a virtual iteration of it later in the year. For now, do lookout for several webinars we will be hosting alongside Wits Journalism.

We hope you have enjoyed our offerings, as much as we have enjoyed working and putting together a successful project that is needed in Africa. Over the next few weeks we will circulate a survey and would like to get feedback from you on our future plans and ambitions. Please take the time to fill it in as your input will help us and everyone in the journalism and media community.

Finally, a big thank you to our growing community, partners, funders and other stakeholders for the continued support over the past three years.

Feel free to follow and join our conversations on innovators and innovations on Twitter and Facebook. And of course, we would love to hear from you. Drop us an email at

Until then, stay home and stay safe.

Tshepo Tshabalala,
Acting director and web editor
May 2020

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