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A doctor and a designer are among the five winners of Google’s Africa Connected initiative.
The programme, which was launched last year, set out to promote inspiring stories of people using the web and Google’s tools in Africa to help bring about social and economic change. The winners were chosen from 2 200 submissions from 35 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa
These stories illustrate how the web can help people create jobs and bring about social change, and also showcase Google’s role in providing the necessary tools (YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, Google Maps, etc.) that enable them to do so.
According to Google, out of the 1 billion people living in Africa, 16% are connected to the web. According to the announcement, “[Google] also wanted to inspire other Africans to come online to explore and benefit from what the web has to offer.”
Here are the five winners:
Eseoghene Odiete — Hesey Designs
After graduating from university, Eseoghene Odiete learned how to create handbags using YouTube and using Google to help find more inspiration and ideas. She soon found that over hundred blogs had featured her vibrant designs. She dreams of building an international brand that promotes African designs. Odiete also runs training classes in Nigeria for other women who want to start businesses.
Christopher Panford — Technol Services
Christopher Panford runs a transport company helping Ghanaian drivers access vehicle loans, which they use to earn a living. He uses Google Maps to constantly monitor the location of vehicles under bank loans. This assures banks that their loans are protected, while Panford empowers more drivers.
Eric Obuh — Vocal Slender Location
Eric Obuh (aka Vocal Slender) used to be a dump-site scavenger in order to pay for studio time to record his music, but made a name for himself after being featured in a BBC documentary entitled Welcome to Lagos. Since then, Obuh has recorded songs that he shares with new audiences on YouTube. He also uses Google+ and YouTube to raise awareness about underprivileged youngsters in the slums of Lagos, helping to raise scholarship money, and encouraging kids to stay in school.
Eunice Namirembe — The Medical Concierge Group
Eunice Namirembe runs The Medical Concierge Group, which helps Ugandan communities access quality healthcare and information. Physician Namirembe has built a 24-hour ambulance call centre by using the Google Cloud console and Google Maps to record patient information and track patient locations. With these tools, Namirembe and her team are able to help connect more Ugandans to medical services, thus saving lives in the process.
Sitawa Wafula — My Mind, My Funk
Sitawa Wafula used Google Blogger to establish an award-winning blog on mental health in East Africa. Based in Kenya, Wafula wants to build a physical resource centre where people can access information online and get much-needed help to manage their conditions.
Each winner receives a US$25,000 in prize funds, as well as expert assistance from the Big G itself to help make their ventures’ impact even greater. To everyone’s surprise, the five runner-ups each received US$10 000 and include Tim McGuire from South Africa, Nqobizitha Mlilo from Zimbabwe, Mayowa Adegbile from Nigeria, Lamine Mbengue from Senegal and Steve Kyenze from Kenya.