TWO Tanzanian initiatives have topped an Africa-wide ICT challenge backed by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Finishing second in the competition after a Tunisian entry, Tanzania’s Coding Clubs, Mentorship and Incubation initiative by Apps and Girls took home 5,000 US dollars while another initiative, Huria Innovation Hub, by the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) also secured its place in the top ten.
Tanzania was the only country in Africa to clock more than one entry into the top ten brackets of the continental competition.
Second place “Apps and Girls” was towered only by a Tunisia-based organization, Startup Tunisia, which won the ATU Africa Innovation Challenge 2021.
Apps and Girls has empowered over 34,686 girls with problem-solving and coding skills, improved their academic performance in ICT and other STEM-related subjects and led to 69 businesses being set up. Winning entry “Startup Tunisia” on the other hand offers grants and provides technical guidance to startup innovators, and, in just two years, has supported 550 start-ups as well as startup support organisations through providing a supportive policy environment, investments and capacity building.
They claim the 10,000 US dollars top prize and the title, “2021 ATU Best Ecosystem Practice Enabling Youth ICT Innovation in Africa” Announcing the winners in the virtual awards ceremony headlined by Zambian Minister of Technology and Science, Mr Felix Mutati, ATU Secretary General Mr John Omo affirmed the Union’s commitment to inspiring the creation of an ecosystem in Africa that supports the development of homegrown solutions to local challenges.
“It remains our desire to enable a systemic perspective on innovation in the continent and I encourage all ICT stakeholders to be open-minded to the idea of collaboration. “It is in this regard that I thank all the partners of the Challenge especially our title sponsor Huawei for their collaboration and investment in innovation and skills promotion among the African youth,” he said.
The competition, sponsored by Huawei Technologies (title sponsors), Intel Corporation, GSM Association, and AfriLabs, also saw the ICT Innovation Programme of Zambia’s ICT regulatory authority, ZICTA, secure third place podium finish, taking home 2,500 US dollars.
Speaking during the ceremony, Huawei’s President of Carrier Business Group, Huawei Southern Africa Region, Mr Samuel Chen, called for further investment in connectivity, power and mobile money infrastructure that innovators can use to develop their innovations and through which citizens can access them.
The event chief guest commended the participants for their practices that respond to the African context and challenges and acknowledged that indeed innovation is what distinguishes and sustains competitive societies.