The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has extended the deadline for submission of entries to the ATU Africa Innovation Challenge 2021, to 31 st August 2021. Following a consultative meeting with Challenge partners, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Huawei Technologies Limited and Intel Corporation, the move was arrived at to expand room for more participants to take part in the Challenge whose focus is on promoting innovation in the continent especially among the youth.
The winner will receive USD 10,000 and the winning practice will be crowned the 2021 ATU Best Ecosystem Practice in Africa Enabling Youth ICT Innovation. Organizations that have developed and implemented a practice that has created an enabling environment for youth ICT innovation to thrive are encouraged to participate. These may include regulatory authorities, entrepreneurial support organizations, incubators, accelerators, or colleges and universities. Submissions are to be made via the ATU website (www.atuuat.africa).
Announcing the deadline extension, the ATU Secretary General Mr. John OMO reiterated the main objective of the Challenge which is to identify a large pool of exceptional practices by African organizations that have supported the growth of young ICT innovators. “We have chosen to extend the deadline because we want as many organizations as possible to come forward and submit their entries. An enabling environment that will tackle the challenges facing the youth in Africa can only be created when solution owners come together and share their best practices that can then be scaled and amplified across Africa to foster youth resilience,” he said. Through its theme “Best ecosystem practices in Africa enabling youth ICT innovation,” the competition seeks recognize the impact of partnerships between young innovators and ecosystem stakeholders.
The competition comes at a time when the impact of COVID-19 on communities is becoming more and more visible. Youth are among the most vulnerable to this impact, facing challenges such as socioeconomic and workforce inclusion. According to the International Labour Organization, “Africa is home to nearly 363 million young people, and this is expected to double by 2050. The full potential of young Africans remains unrealized as unemployment, working poverty, informal employment and gender inequalities continue to be significant obstacles.” Among these youths are ICT innovators who have come up with brilliant innovations but lack the needed support to scale up their innovation for the benefit of the continent. It for this reason that the competition seeks to create an impactful, sustainable solution through building of a network of champions to develop a youth resilient ecosystem in Africa.