Africa50 in call to entrepreneurs for innovative last-mile internet solutions

Featured image: Africa50 Innovation Challenge via Facebook

Think you have a solution that could significantly increase access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in under-served areas in Africa?

Then you’ll want to enter the Africa50 Innovation Challenge.

The challenge is a crowd-sourcing initiative of Casablanca-based infrastructure investment platform Africa50.

Through the challenge, Africa50 aims to find workable solutions to last mile internet connectivity in Africa.

The Africa50 Innovation Challenge deadline is 31 January

The challenge is open to developers, ICT experts, engineers and innovators.

It provides participants with an opportunity to get their solutions in front of Africa50’s investment team and project funding partners, as well as gain exposure in some of the continent’s leading tech events — AfricaCom and Transform Africa.

Africa50 said in a statement on LinkedIn earlier this month that it provides project development funding of between $2-million and $10-million.

In addition to cash prizes and potential project development funding, participants stand to benefit from access to investor connections. Participants will also be integrated into Africa50’s pipeline of bankable projects.

In addition, successful applicants will be provided with technical support to improve their project’s investment readiness. They will also get the opportunity to scale their solution to Africa50’s 27 shareholder countries.

Applications for the challenge will close on 31 January, with submissions set to be assessed between February and March.

Thereafter, finalists will present their solutions at the Transform Africa Summit, with winners set to be presented at AfricaCom 2020.

Africa50 says if an entity is considered for potential funding, it should be willing to implement its solution and become a partner in a project that will be implemented in Rwanda.

To be considered for the challenge, innovations must:

  • Be at pilot or post-revenue stage
  • Meet worldwide environmental,social and governance standards
  • Be novel ways of using existing technology, infrastructure, software or social engagement

Combinations of solutions are encouraged, 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.

In addition, solutions to related issues such as energy access, supporting uptake and device affordability and usability are also encouraged.

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 parameters:

  • Innovation: The solution is able to address the problem with new or original ideas and methods.
  • Scalability: The solution is able to address the problem for a large number of users at relatively low cost per new user. It can also be expanded nationally and internationally.
  • Affordability: The solution is economically viable such that industry players and consumers can reasonably access the solution and the cost barrier is not high.
  • Sustainability: 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.
  • Deploy-ability: The solution is 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.

Featured image: Africa50 Innovation Challenge via Facebook



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