Africa50 has launched the Africa50 Innovation Challenge to look for innovative solutions to help increase access to high-speed internet in under-served areas in Africa. The pan-African infrastructure investment platform unveiled the challenge at the 2019 Transform Africa Summit held in Rwanda in May 2019.
The innovation challenge is open for ICT developers, innovators, engineers, and entrepreneurs across the African continent. The winning solutions will receive cash prizes and/or will be considered for project development funding. Projects will be rolled-out in Rwanda as the pilot country, with the objective to scale them up to other countries in Africa.
At the launch, Chief Operating Officer Carole Wainaina said Internet connectivity is a key driver for inclusive growth, provided it is accessible, affordable, easy-to-use and adapted to people’s needs.
“This Challenge is an exciting opportunity for us to engage with the most creative minds to find novel solutions that can help address all these factors and tackle last mile connectivity in a holistic and sustainable manner. We see this as a huge opportunity and are ready to work with savvy investors and innovators, acting as a bridge to regulators and governments,” she said
For this Challenge, Africa50 will exceptionally consider projects at pilot stage, with smaller funding needs, with the intention of scaling them up into bankable projects with broad impact.
Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé said: “Africa needs to join the fourth industrial revolution, and we are ready to contribute by promoting innovation. Rwanda, one of our shareholders, is a great example, having developed a thriving ICT sector through enlightened leadership and an enabling regulatory environment. We see synergies between our Innovation Challenge and our co-development of Kigali Innovation City, a major tech hub. In fact, Rwanda is an ideal pilot country for implementing the solutions we hope to find. We can validate the concepts and technologies there before rolling them out in other countries.”
Africa50 is implementing the challenge in partnership with DysruptUs, a firm specializing in the organization of innovation challenges to solve global social and economic needs, and with Informa, a leading international events and knowledge firm. Through the platform, the solutions can be submitted worldwide.
Individuals and organizations with a strong passion for developing innovative solutions are encouraged to apply. Submitted solutions to the Challenge will be reviewed by a group of experts in ICT, investment, and international development. Finalists will be invited to present their solutions at AfricaCom in November 2019 in Cape Town.
Applications were opened from 14 May until 8 September and can be done via the challenge’s website here.