Tanzanian Android App to Connect Farmers to Input Suppliers, Experts

TANZANIAN Placidius Rwechungura was one of the finalists of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) Africa Innovation Challenge 2020.

The 35-year-old topped the East Africa region together with fellow contestant Abdinoor Yerrow from Kenya, but failed to finish on the top three. The Kenyan was the first runner-up and walked home with $3,000.

Mr Rwechungura’s innovation is an android App that allows farmers to get connected to each other and to experts.

The technology, according to ATU, also helps farmers to plan, monitor, analyse and manage all farm activities easily by enhancing networking with farm experts, farm input suppliers, markets and financial institutions.

Winning the top prize was North African Mai Nagy, who will be taking home $5,000 for her innovation, a virtual science lab that allows students to conduct science experiments virtually.

The innovation, according to Ms Nagy, has been designed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced a shutdown of schools in many countries on the continent.

“Today, students lose the benefit of carrying out experiments in school laboratories. Our innovation seeks to fill this gap,” said Ms Nagy, defending the initiative.

The competition, launched by the ATU – a specialised agency of the African Union (AU) in telecommunications was designed to identify and support young African innovators who have developed innovations useful for benefiting the fight to contain Covid-19 and possibly other emergency situations in Africa in the future.

ATU believes that investments and commitments in ICT will be the fastest way to support economic growth and bring more Africans into the fast-growing digital economy.

Guest of honour Joseph Mucheru, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs recognised ICT as an important driver for socioeconomic development.

“As the ICT community, we have chosen to be part of the solution at a time when the problem is too dominant,” he said, expressing his approval for the competition format. His sentiments were underscored by title sponsor representative, Huawei Group Vice-President Tao Hou who noted that: “If we can build more networks, digital skills and content, we can reduce inequality in Africa – enabling those in rural areas, or the disadvantaged, to access quality education and healthcare.”

He called on local developers to come up with local solutions that would solve local problems, highlighting Huawei’s efforts on the continent with OpenLabs, Huawei Cloud and Huawei’s AppGallery as tools they can use.

ATU Secretary-General John Omo, speaking at the forum, thanked challenge partners for their support and affirmed that ATU was keen on pursuing cooperation with institutional investors, bilateral or multilateral providers of finance, and other sources to further support competition winners.

“Our aspiration is to be as helpful as possible in identifying, testing and highlighting innovative adaptation approaches with the potential to be replicated and scaled,” he said.

The event also recognised the top two participants from each of the regions of Africa.

Those awarded in this category include, Egyptian Yasmin Eldeeb, Zimbabwean Kudakwashe Clinton Nyamhuka, Senegalese Mouhamadou Lamine KEBE, Sotho Tiisetso Masilo and Nigerian Olusegun Adegun.

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