Mr John Omo, secretary general of the African Telecommunication Union.

The African Telecommunication Union is now receiving applications from ICT innovators for this year’s continental competition.

Now in its second edition, the ATU Africa Innovation Challenge seeks to support solutions that will boost innovations that address the continent’s challenges.

Mr John Omo, secretary general of the ATU 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,” will run between June 15 and September 28. 

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

The competition, sponsored by Huawei Technologies 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.  

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

The winning entity will be awarded US$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 John OMO.  

Dr Peya Mushelenga, Namibia ICT Minister, who was the chief guest for the event, applauded the two organizations 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 Mr Stephen Bereaux from ITU, a specialized UN agency responsible for all matters ICT. 

The inaugural ATU Africa Innovation Challenge that took place in 2020 recognized 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 Mr Abdinoor Yerrow from Kenya and Ms Bequerelle Matemtsap Mbou from Cameroon.

Other countries that made it to the top 11 were from 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 innovation Challenge Mr Samuel Chen, Vice President for Huawei Southern Africa said: “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 their applications via the ATU website. The proposal must be an original idea 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. 

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