The Open Innovation Africa Summit in held in Nairobi, Kenya, this week saw South African companies honoured for innovation. Umuntu Media won the Open Innovation Africa Summit innovator award while Snapplify was selected by sponsor, Nokia, to demonstrate leading innovation at the Summit.
This year’s summit, themed, ‘Leadership in Innovation’, focused the spotlight on the leadership required to drive acceleration of African entrepreneurship and innovation in order to achieve ambitious targets for social economic development across the continent. The three-day summit, organised by the World Bank and Nokia, attracted over 200 top policy makers, developers and entrepreneurs various countries in Africa.
Officially opening the summit, Kenya’s Information Permanent Secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo, said there was need for all innovators – especially in the technology sector – to be trained on basic entrepreneurship skills before being funded. He said most of the young innovators come up with great ideas but do not know how much money they needed, and landed up applying for less funding or ended up getting over funded and misused the money.
“We must get to that level where our youth understand the basics in business so that we can have sustainable funding in the days to come. And we must deal with it to make this market attractive, “said Ndemo.
That wasn’t the issue for CEO of Umuntu Media in South Africa, Johan Nel. His ‘Mimiboard’ innovation was recognised by the Summit. “We won the Open Innovation Africa Summit innovator award this week in Kenya. This is a great honour for us,” said Nel.
“We had to demo what we do to 200 delegates at the summit and then they voted. This was a great event and 200 policy makers, heads of government, business and entrepreneurs sat for three days to discuss the future of Africa and take steps towards a bright future for our continent,” he said.
Nel’s African interest-based pinboard, called Mimiboard, was the most voted app by participants at the event out of over 10 mobile apps and services that were demoed. Built with the Google App Engine using Python and JQuery, the app currently works on Android, J2ME, SMS, WAP-enabled devices, and has attracted over 5000 users within its first week of official launch.
Snapplify, the Cape-based mobile app provider, showcased its online platform that instantly digitises content for mobile devices including iOS and Android to an audience of 105 of its peers, as well as organisers Capgemini, infodev and Nokia.
“It is an exciting time to be African, because we can make a global difference,” said Snapplify CEO, Wesley Lynch. “Africa knows mobile, and it is through mobile that we will show the world what we’re capable of.”
Lynch says the contest was to come up with “societal, structural, financial and technological” ideas that could foster innovation leadership in Africa. It is this very solution that made Snapplify the leading mobile app developer in Africa in just 12 months since inception.
The African Media Initiative, AMI, ran a three-day workshop on Analogue to Digital Television Migration in collaboration with a number of partners that included the Ministry of Information and Communications of the Government of Kenya, the Kenya Media Programme, the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI), the African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute and MultiChoice.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Meredith Beal, a Knight International Fellow and responsible for business development at AMI, observed that “the impending migration affects everyone” and called upon stakeholders to work in a collaborative manner.
The keynote speaker was Dr Ndemo. He was confident that by the end of 2012, 80% of the current four million TV sets would have successfully migrated. However, as a cautionary note, Dr. Ndemo mentioned that there are still a number of problems that persist – namely the need to “convince broadcasters to begin the migration process” and the cost of set-top boxes.
Local content, according to Dr. Ndemo, if well conceptualised, has the capacity to “drive the digital uptake much faster” and convince the sceptics of the value and potential of migrating. Dr. Ndemo also spoke about digital migration complementing and enriching other ICT platforms. For him, a convergence between ICT, broadcasting and mobile has net developmental dividends especially in the area of education.
AMI said three-day sessions offered very lively interactions on technical issues, policy considerations, spectrum management decisions, local content and consumer awareness. Of particular value was the inclusion of a presentation on adding a social media component to the public awareness campaign. This is an element that was not considered in most of the awareness campaign plans that countries had shared. There also was an informative discussion during the panel on how the migration may contribute to East Africa’s development, which highlighted additional opportunities.