UK startup shines at 2017 AppsAfrica Innovation Awards with two prizes

Apps Africa winners
Apps Africa winners

UK-based startup what3words that operates in Africa and has developed a unique geocoding address has clinched two awards at the 2017 AppsAfrica Innovation Awards held in Cape Town.

The four-year old startup was one of nine winners announced last night at an awards ceremony held at the Shimmy Beach Club at the V&A Waterfront in the city. Now in its third year the awards aim to celebrate innovation in mobile and tech on the continent.

The startup has developed a system that divides the world into 3m-by-3m grids, with each block assigned with a unique address of three words. The company took home the awards for best enterprise solution and as well as best disruptive innovation.

The nine companies — selected from among 320 applicants from 31 countries –will have the opportunity to exhibit at the African Tech Summit in Kigali, set to take place on 14 and 15 February next year.

what3words dominated the 2017 AppsAfrica Innovation Wards, bagging two awards

The remainder of the winners are:

Best Social and Messaging Award: Flare Dispatch (Kenya): The app is an emergency response platform that connects those in need of emergency services with paramedics and ambulance operators.

Educational Award: Snapplify (South Africa): Content distribution and publishing platform

Fintech Award: Flutterwave (Nigeria): Digital payment platform

Social Impact Award: Vodacom e-School (South Africa): Zero-rated Educational portal

Best African Award: Boomplay Music (Nigeria): Digital music service

mCommerce Award: Mazady (Egypt): SMS-based auction service

Changing Africa Award: Jumo (South Africa): Financial services marketplace

News and Entertainment Award: Bounce News (Nigeria): Data-light news app

Andrew Fassnidge, founder of tech advisory AppsAfrica, noted how startups beat several large companies.

“Our awards are not a beauty pageant for brands. Vodacom got five nominations, they won one award. Most people would have thought Vodacom would have swept the boards in those categories,” he added.

Read more: Meet the AppsAfrica Innovation Awards 2017 finalists

Fassnidge said the event was not just a startup award competition. “We cover what’s going on across the whole ecosystem. Whether it’s a bank, telco or a startup,” he explained.

He said judges had based their decision based on what they had seen in terms of innovation and scale across Africa. In addition, he said the judges had also taken into consideration longevity of the solutions and the potential to make an impact.

Telcos using awards to scout for startups

He said past winners had told him that after winning the awards, investors were taking them “a little bit more seriously”.

“Other winners like BitPesa have gone onto win more fintech awards. We had another winner called Slidder App who six months after winning our award later went onto the Mobile World Congress and won the best app in the world,” he said.

He said some telecoms companies were using the awards as a platform to scout for startups with whom to partner with.

“The corporates are very interested to see who of these startups they can work with. MTN Group chief digital officer, Herman Singh said to me it’s (the awards) great because these are the companies we actually want to work with,” he added.

Featured image: 2017 Apps Africa Innovation Awards winners

Daniel Mpala


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