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Infrastructure investment platform Africa50 has launched an innovation challenge aimed at helping increase access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in under-served areas on the continent.
The Africa50 Innovation Challenge was launched last month in Rwanda during the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali.
Through the challenge, Africa50 is looking for the most innovative infrastructure and tech solutions which enable people to connect to the internet in their daily lives through fixed and mobile devices.
Applications for the challenge will close on 8 September, with finalists set to present their solutions at AfricaCom between 12 and 14 November in Cape Town. Winners will be announced at next year’s Transform Africa Summit, with the winning solution to be piloted in Rwanda.
The application deadline for the Africa50 Innovation Challenge is 8 September
For applications to be considered, they must meet the following criteria:
- Solutions must be at a pilot and or post-revenue stage.
- Entries must meet worldwide environmental, social and governance standards.
- Entries that include combinations of solutions, including technological and deployment models particularly those that work systemically and unlock a number of barriers to the challenges of last mile connectivity.
- Solutions may include physical infrastructure such as solar powered mobile masts and platforms, TV white-space technology, drones and local micro-nets, as well as innovative rural network deployment models.
- Novel ways of using existing technology and infrastructure, software or social engagement.
- Solutions to related issues such as energy access, supporting uptake and device affordability and usability are also encouraged
Innovators stand to win potential project development funding, cash prizes, as well as access to business-to-business (B2B) matching services to connect with new partners.
In addition, challenge entrants stand to benefit from technical support to improve their project’s investment readiness, as well as an opportunity to scale their solutions to Africa50’s shareholder countries.
An expert committee comprised of academic, industry, public policy and finance professionals will assess the extent to which participants meet the following technical and business criteria:
- Innovative: The solution is able to address the problem with new or original ideas and methods
- Scalable: The solution is able to address the problem for a large number of users at relatively low cost per new user, and it can be expanded nationally and internationally.
- Affordable: The solution is economically viable such that industry players and consumers can reasonably access the solution and the cost barrier is not high
- Sustainable: The solution is not only economically viable but also creates shared value for local communities and resolves or at least prevents further disruption of the environment
- Ready to be deployed: The solution will be ready to be deployed throughout Rwanda within 12 months, meaning that field trials and relevant approvals have been gained, or can be obtained within the timescale.
- Modular: The solution is built in such a way that its constituent parts can function on their own or be assembled in different ways in order to meet diverse user needs. It can be plugged into various stages of the internet-connectivity value chain.
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