October 18, 2021

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‘ICT innovators in Africa to benefit from telecoms union’s competition’

The second edition of the ATU Africa Innovation Challenge has been launched by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU).

ATU made the announcement in Nairobi-Kenya, in a virtual ceremony hosted with competition partner-the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Announcing the initiative, Secretary-General of the ATU, Mr John OMO, said: “This initiative will be instrumental in supporting institutional solutions that will boost innovation in Africa and address some of the challenges facing the African community.”

The ATU Africa Innovation Challenge is a programme that seeks to provide both short and long-term solutions and opportunities to the African Youth.

This year’s competition, themed, “Best ecosystem practices in Africa enabling youth ICT innovation,” runs from 15th June to 28th September 2021.

The competition, sponsored by Huawei (title sponsor) and Intel Corporation, is open to all ecosystem stakeholders such as regulatory authorities, entrepreneurial support organizations, incubators, accelerators, or institutions such as colleges or universities from Africa.

African organisations and institutions that have created an enabling environment for youth ICT innovations to thrive are eligible to participate.

The winning entity will be awarded USD 10, 000 aside from their practice gaining recognition as the best ecosystem practice in Africa enabling youth ICT innovation.

“I want to thank our sponsors especially the headline sponsor, Huawei, for once again demonstrating their commitment to promote innovation and the wider ecosystem in Africa,” said Omo.

Dr Peya Mushelenga, Minister of Information and Communication Technology in Namibia, who was the chief guest for the event, applauded the two organisations for the initiative and acknowledged the significance of public-private partnerships in promoting development.

“The collaboration between ATU, Huawei, and other partners is a tool delivered to our hands. Let us use it to generate sustained economic growth in Africa,” he said.

“ITU is proud and pleased to partner with ATU for this particular Challenge as it aligns with our vision for inclusion of youth in digital transformation.

“Youth innovators are centrally placed to ensure sustainability of innovation in Africa, and they need an enabling environment that fosters and nurtures innovation for them to thrive,” said Mushelenga.

The inaugural ATU Africa Innovation Challenge that took place in 2020 recognised and awarded 11 finalists across Africa who had developed mobile applications helpful in benefiting Africa’s fight against COVID-19 and its effects.

Egypt’s Mai Nagy topped the competition, followed by Abdinoor Yerrow from Kenya and Ms Bequerelle Matemtsap Mbou from Cameroon.

Other countries that made it to the top 11 were Zimbabwe, Senegal, Lesotho, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Benin, and Tanzania.

Reflecting on the first innovation challenge and the anticipated benefits of the second, the title sponsor for the Challenge for two years in a row, Mr Samuel Chen, Vice President for Huawei Southern Africa Region highlighted the strong partnership with ATU and noted that: “Huawei is committed to developing innovations that bring the benefits of technology to all alongside supporting and enabling innovation and digital ecosystem development in Africa by Africans through training and partnerships alongside infrastructure and digital services.”

Participants will be required to submit (via the ATU website, www.atuuat.africa) a unique practice that has created an enabling environment for youth ICT innovation to thrive together with success stories of two innovators that are beneficiaries of the practice.

The practice must be an original concept developed by the ecosystem stakeholder and must have been successfully implemented (and running) for a minimum of one year.

It can be in the form of a policy, an initiative, or a programme.