An ICT innovation by Zetech University of Kenya has been crowned among top 10 entries in a continental Youth ICT Innovation Competition. The competition was backed by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The competition was sponsored by Huawei Technologies as Title sponsors, Intel Corporation, GSM Association and AfriLabs.

The initiative, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Development, acts as a business and technology incubator. The initiative has further provided the necessary tools, training, and mentorship enabling over 200 beneficiaries to develop their innovation and entrepreneurial skills.

The Zetech University students will now attend a boot camp organized by ITU and training by innovation-support champion AfriLabs. The team will also showcase their entry in a personalized virtual booth at the Global Innovation Forum. The initiative will also be recognized by the ITU and ATU as an Ecosystem stakeholders Best Practice that can be scaled and amplified across Africa to foster youth resilience.

In the top positions were Tunisia’s Startup Tunisia, Tanzania’s Coding Clubs, Mentorship and Incubation initiative by Apps and Girls, and Zambia’s ICT Innovation Programme by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).

Tunisia’s Startup Tunisia initiative which ranked top in the Challenge, claim the Ksh. 1.1 million (USD 10,000) top prize and the title, 2021 ATU Best Ecosystem Practice Enabling Youth ICT Innovation in Africa. Startup Tunisia offers grants and provides technical guidance to startup innovators, and has, in just 2 years, supported 550 startups as well as startup support organizations through providing a supportive policy environment, investments and capacity building.

The competition also saw Tanzania’s Coding Clubs, Mentorship and Incubation initiative by Apps and Girls, and the ICT Innovation Programme of Zambia’s ICT Authority take home Ksh. 552,500 (USD 5,000) and Ksh. 276,250 (USD 2,500). The former has empowered over 34,686 girls with problem-solving and coding skills, improved their academic performance in ICT and other STEM-related subjects and led to 69 businesses being set-up.

This year’s edition of the Challenge identified institutions from Africa that create an enabling environment for youth to develop ICT innovations. Among the institutions sort to take part in the competition included policy making bodies, incubators, universities and non-profits. This is in recognition of the critical role that such organisations play and the importance of investing in fertile soil from which innovators can grow from.

Applicants had to explain how they supported innovations and were additionally required to highlight two beneficiaries that have profited from the practice.

Speaking at the ceremony, Huawei’s President of Carrier Business Group, Huawei Southern Africa Region, Samuel Chen, called for further investment in connectivity, power and mobile money. Mr. Chen also highlighted Huawei’s commitment to supporting local innovation and skills as being key to the company’s success.