West Africa’s mobile startups set to battle for top honours

Musicians want to go to the Grammys and actors dream of winning Oscars. For tech startups in West Africa, WAMAs is set to be their dream laurel as the inaugural West Africa Mobile Awards is open for entries.

Pitched as the first truly West African technology awards targeting the leading mobile and tech companies across the region, organizers said it was created in order to measure how the provision of mobile connectivity, products, and services is having a fundamental impact on almost every aspect of society in West Africa.

Supported by Mobile West Africa (MWA), AppsAfrica.com, and the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), the WAMAs will reach its crescendo in Lagos, Nigeria at an award gala to be held on April 21.

“The awards strive to identify, recognise, and celebrate the individuals and companies that are the driving force of mobile innovation in the region,” organisers stated.

The awards will recognise the global brands, dynamic start-ups, and visionary individuals who are shaping mobile content and commerce in West Africa. Applications are welcome across 10 categories and the WAMAs are free to enter to ensure a level playing field for all.

An expert judging panel that includes industry leaders, independent journalists (myself included), analysts, academics, and venture capitalists will assess all entries. The process will be completely comprehensive, exhaustive and systematic, meaning that the awards and the processes surrounding them are fully transparent.

Submission of entries is already underway and it will be open until 28 February.

Prestige is at stake

Andrew Fassnidge is the lead organiser of the awards and he said as far as the WAMAs is concerned, prestige is at stake.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the West African startup landscape [2015/2016 Update]

“Winners are going to be recognised as the best in the industry. Better than all the rest. They will have a dream public relations story to tell with the assembled international media, industry peers and investors,” he told Ventureburn.

He added that winners will also receive a year’s free membership with Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) and if the winner’s award category is relevant, such winner will be automatically shortlisted for a MEFFY – giving the winner the opportunity to benchmark the company, product, or service against the global mobile ecosystem leaders.

Ideal entrants

On the subject of who the ideal entrant is, he said anyone/everyone can enter – individuals, entities, startups, blue chip companies and several others.

“We believe start-ups deserve as much recognition as blue chip companies if their contribution and technology stand up, therefore the awards are open to all individuals or entities who can demonstrate suitability for the category entered and impress our expert panel of judges,” he said.

Potential impacts and Nigeria’s dominance

Through the WAMAs, organizers said they aim to promote the West African mobile space internationally and through the partnership with MEF, they will be able to plug some of the winners onto the international stage giving them global recognition and opportunities.

Read more: Mobile Challenge Africa crowns three winners from Sub-Saharan Africa

Even though Nigeria is predicted to dominate the awards, organizers still believe that startups and entries from other West African countries including the non-English speaking countries in the region still have a good chance of winning.

“Our aim is to promote the best in mobile from across the whole of West Africa so ultimately it will be down to our independent panel of expert industry judges to decide on who meets the specific criteria in each category. Regardless of countries, the cream will rise to the top so no special considerations are needed if the technology on contribution is good enough,” he said.

Sponsorship and partnership opportunities

Fassnidge confirmed there are still a number of sponsorship opportunities available for brands who want to be associated with the leading individuals and organisations in the West African mobile industry.
“With packages ranging from $5000 to $15,000 there is a fantastic array of ways that brands can get involved and gain visibility and awareness,” he said.

Paul Adepoju


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