The Africa Telecommunication Union (ATU) on Thursday (20th August, 2020) launched the ATU Africa Innovations Challenge 2020; a competition designed to identify and support young African innovators who have developed mobile applications useful for benefiting the fight to contain COVID-19’ and possibly other emergency situations in Africa in future. According to the ATU Secretary General Mr. John OMO, top prize winner in the competition is expected to carry home a cash award of USD 5000 aside from being engaged in other mentorship and partnership programmes.
“This challenge will be instrumental in recognizing, testing and highlighting disruptive innovations and new business models that have the capacity to redefine Africa,” said Mr. OMO who also stressed on the importance of African institutions to support initiatives that create, innovate and deliver for the continent. To do so, he suggested, requires a concerted effort from stakeholders at all levels.
The launch event whose discussion centered on the theme: How Africa can stay above the Impact of COVID-19 through Innovation; brought together a number of innovators, ICT Ministries and regulators, the academia and ICT organizations.
Speaking also during the launch event, Chief Guest Hon S.E.M. Mamadou SANOGO, Minister of Communication, Digital Economy, Post, Information and Communication Technologies, Côte d’Ivoire reiterated the need and urgency to do everything possible to support the fight against COVID-19 including through such initiatives as the Africa Innovations Challenge. “Innovation has become the key differentiating element that can give economic opportunities to our young people” he said.
Announcing Huawei as the Title Sponsor, Mr OMO said, “We are happy to bring Huawei on board. For over 20 years Huawei has been building ICT infrastructure, promoting ICT skills and enabling ICT innovation across Africa. We believe the trustworthy partner can support this initiative with their expertise, insight and experience both globally and locally. ”
Vice-President of Public Relations for Huawei Northern Africa Region, Mr. Loïse Tamalgo who was also part of the event underscored the value of innovative approaches towards growth in the continent as well as the company’s dedication to investing in talent development. “We are looking forward to working with ATU to bring out the creativity and entrepreneurship residing in the African youth,” he said.
The ATU innovation challenge is an initiative that seeks to provide both short and long-term solutions and opportunities to the African Youth. With increased suppression of the social fabric in many
communities in Africa as a result of COVID-19, and in consideration of the fact that a large population of Africa are youths who are generally living in difficult conditions, the competition promotes the idea that the ability for countries’ readiness for digital solutions, could significantly help address some of these challenges.
The event was also used to unveil ATU’s new logo as part of the Union’s re-branding effort.
The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) was founded in 1977 as a specialised agency of the Organisation of African Unity, now African Union, in the field of telecommunications. ATU took its present name in 1999. This led to the transformation of the agency into a partnership between public and private stakeholders in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
ATU provides a forum for stakeholders involved in ICT to formulate effective policies and strategies aimed at improving access to information infrastructure and services. In addition, the Union represents the interests of its members at global decision-making conferences and promotes initiatives aimed at integrating regional markets, attracting investment into ICT infrastructure, and building institutional and human capacity.
The mission of the Union is to accelerate the development of the telecommunications/ICTs in Africa in order to achieve digital economies. The Union envisions an Africa that is empowered as an inclusive information society with strong digital economies for sustainable social, economic and environmental development in Africa. ATU’s core activity programmes include; internal institutional capacity, support by key institutions and strategic partnerships.
ATU currently has 48 Member States drawn from Governments and 43 Associate Members from within and outside the African region.