Africa Tech Festival Awards 2023 – Finalists Announced

Africa tech festival 2023

The list of finalists – of the projects and people who are powering change and working to bridge the digital divide across Africa – has been announced, with the winners of the Africa Tech Festival Awards set to be unveiled and celebrated at a gala evening on Wednesday 15 November in Cape Town.

James Williams, Senior Event Director, Events | Connecting Africa | Informa Tech said: “It is an exciting time to be in technology and telecommunications as can be seen from the multitude of entries we received for consideration on this year’s awards.

“These annual awards are the pinnacle of an industry that is having a profound effect on the daily lives of Africans. In publicly recognising these leaders and changemakers from the African tech ecosystem that are making the difference, they serve to encourage even more innovation and business excellence across the continent – and even beyond.”

After receiving 247 nominations, which were narrowed down to a shortlist of 58 who then received more than 14,000 public votes, Africa Tech Festival is proud to unveil those select few in the running for top honours this year are:

Changing Lives Award

Vodacom Foundation DRC – The Vodacom Foundation is supporting schools across DRC, providing connectivity, improving classroom environment, devices, and educational content via the platform (Voda-Educ).

SAWA Youth Watch NGO – an organisation focused on poverty alleviation and youth empowerment by providing an online platform for young people to develop their opinions on current topics such as social, economic, political, and development-oriented issues. We allocate them mentors who have excelled in various fields of society to impart knowledge and walk with them through their journey to success.

Huawei & UNESCO: Connecting Schools Initiative – Huawei collaborates with UNESCO, national governments, and educational partners to connect schools to broadband internet, enhance teacher training and improve learner resources to boost the quality and accessibility of education in schools and from home, to ensure the continuity of learning.

Connectivity for All Award

Avanti Communications – For 15 years, Avanti has worked to launch satellites to deliver high throughput broadband internet to areas which are difficult to reach. Avanti’s mission is to enable people, countries, and continents to Be More and education is one element of the journey to success. Project iMlango is one such example which today has been implemented in 205 primary and 40 secondary schools across 4 regions in Kenya, reaching over 180,000 learners in hard-to-reach areas and has shown exceptional improvement in learning outcomes for these children, doubling their numeracy learning rates when compared with the baseline study.

TooMuchWifi – TooMuchWifi serves the greater Western Cape in South Africa, with over 400 000 happy customers in over 40 communities. They are on a mission to bridge the digital divide faced in aspirational communities by providing low-cost super-fast Wi-Fi. They partner with communities through various initiatives like soup kitchens, sports teams, and local events, as well as building relationships with community members and influencers. By providing two connectivity options ie: uncapped fixed home line and unlimited community Hotspots, TooMuchWifi is ensuring everyone can get connected from as little as R5 per day.

Angola Cables – Global Data Centre Interconnection (GDI) from Angola Cables empowers network service providers to offer a host of managed services across several data centres and internet exchange points, connecting local as well as international digital ecosystems in Africa, Europe, and Americas, through a single manageable network. Currently, Angola Cables, through its partnership with Flexential® can connect African enterprises with public or private networks to over 40 key data center hubs across the United States.

Innovation for Impact Award

MTN Uganda – MTN Webphone with Webex is an alternative Unified Communication calling and collaboration application that is powering communication and multimedia collaboration for traders, small size businesses, foreign students, foreign communities, the Ugandan diaspora, and the migrant workers from Uganda. The receivers receive and make calls back from a feature phone and they do not need a smartphone as compared to other OTT solutions like WhatsApp. This is impactful as smartphone penetration and utilisation in Uganda is hindered by cost of phones, data, and irregular electricity supply. The solution is enabling formerly silent GSM roamers to stay connected to their communities.

Orange Cameroon – Orange designed the KYC Chatbot on WhatsApp to automate the ID card updating process for both their Telco and Orange Money customers. Orange’s solution based on Optical Character Recognition and Robotic Process Automation enables high simultaneous processing capacity to enhance the customer experience and ensure regulatory compliance.

Safaricom PLC’s ‘Hustler Fund’ – most Kenyan citizens work in the informal sector with limited access to credit, leading to relatively low adoption of innovative technologies and management practices. To overcome this, the Government of Kenya devised a low-cost Government to Citizen (G2C) credit and savings product dubbed the ‘Hustler Fund’. Safaricom leveraged agile ways of working and modern architecture patterns, microservices, and 100% open source to implement the project in 6-weeks. Since inception, it has disbursed over KES 40 billion to more than 19 million citizens in a period of six months, with over 7 million customers returning as repeat borrowers. The positive impact cannot be overstated, as it has empowered individuals and businesses with the financial resources necessary for growth and prosperity.

CXO of the Year Award

Yasser Shaker, CEO, Orange Egypt – Shaker was appointed as the CEO of Orange Egypt on 1st May 2018 and has played a significant role in the technology sector for over 20 years. His previous position was Senior VP, CTIO Orange Middle East and Africa (OMEA) where he contributed to the successful execution of Orange Group strategy towards the development of digitalisation in 19 countries. Prior to that, he was the CTO of Orange Egypt, and has been a board member of several companies.

Ahmed Yusef, CEO, Hormuud Telecom – Since 2002, he has been the CEO of Hormuud Telecom, growing it into Somalia’s largest private sector employer. Ahmed has re-established basic GSM (2G) services, helped connect Somalia’s first fibre optic cable and introduced 4G technology; 4G coverage now stands at 80% in urban and 60%+ in rural areas. Following the civil war, formal banking structures collapsed. Today, over 90% of the Somali shilling is counterfeit. In 2011, Ahmed launched EVC Plus, a mobile money platform used by 90% of the population, to revitalise Somalia’s economy and enable vital remittances. It is the backbone for businesses and has transformed Somalia into one of the world’s first cashless societies. His leadership led to the launch of Waafi, Somalia’s pioneering fintech app.

Dejan Kastelic, Group Technology Officer, Vodacom Group – Under Dejan’s leadership as CTO, Vodacom is supporting the purpose-led development of digitally inclusive communities, expanding their network capacity and services across the continent. This is driven by Vodacom’s Tech 2025 strategy, localised for their eight African markets.

Female Innovator of the Year Award

Shalini Boodhooa, Liquid – Shalini Boodhooa has not only broken barriers in the tech industry but has also consistently demonstrated innovation and leadership in her work by creating the Women in Liquid (WIL) association, as part of the Liquid Intelligent Technologies Group to solve real-world problems. A vocal advocate for gender diversity in technology, she actively engages with her community, sharing her experiences and insights to inspire and uplift women pursuing careers in tech. Her achievements serve as a beacon for women in tech, encouraging them to pursue their dreams fearlessly.

Bunmi Cynthia Adeleye, Chief Strategy Officer, Shoprite Nigeria – Bunmi is a highly accomplished and experienced leader with a career spanning more than two decades. With a background in strategy management, organisational development, and change leadership, she has held senior positions in various industries and locations across Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Currently serving as the Chief Strategy Officer at Retail Supermarkets Nigeria (Shoprite, Nigeria), she is responsible for building and maturing a strategy management office while supporting strategic initiatives prioritised by the Board.

Nene Maiga, CEO, Orange Botswana – Néné Maïga became the CEO of Orange Botswana in September 2021. Prior to that, she was appointed chief of Staff to the CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa in May 2018. In this position, she led structuring projects for the whole MEA region, aiming at improving value creation and inclusivity. She set up an innovative graduate programme and leads OMEA’s initiative to become a role model for gender parity. She has been instrumental in improving the use of mobile Internet in the country and increasing speeds to some of the very fastest on the continent. She has launched 5G and has promoted health solutions based on that technology. In little less than 8 months, their Orange Money service distributed over 1 million digital instant loans. Nene has also launched the very successful Orange coding school where hundreds of citizens have been trained.

Sustainability Champion of the Year Award

Rack Centre – Rack Centre LGS2 Datat Centre is designed to meet the growing demand for data centre services in West Africa. The LGS2 data centre has a net IT load of 13.5MW and 3,240 square metres of lettable space and is equipped with the latest in data centre technology. The LGS2 data centre is also committed to sustainability. It has a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of 1.4, which is well below the industry average. It is also working on various green data centre initiatives, including the use of renewable energy, water conservation and waste management.

South Africa MTN & Huawei Green Site Innovation – To solve South Africa’s intensified load shedding crisis, South Africa MTN is closely cooperating with Huawei to launch resilient and intelligent green site power solutions. For example, the innovation includes anti-theft reconstruction and smart power, which greatly adapt to power outages and weak power grids to ensure more than 99% PAV. Moreover, Huawei’s cutting-edge OSS, NetEco is added to provide continuous optimization in conjunction with AI-based green solar access to reduce carbon emissions and save electricity. Through in-depth collaboration, resilient network requirements are met for best user experience and simultaneously empowers MTN to build green & simplified sites.

Orange Middle East & Africa – Orange MEA defined its commitments to limit its environmental impacts and accelerate its energy transition. Sustainable growth is at the heart of their ambitions. This ambition is based on three pillars: Reducing consumption, energy transition and creating a partner ecosystem committed to sustainability. This involves the modernisation of technical environments at site, reorganising their supply chain, and optimising travel for operations on the field. More than 10% of energy consumption is saved every year. 7,500 telecom towers and 10 datacenters have already been solarised. Three solar farms are operational, and four additional in deployment.

Orange’s procurement policy is setting energy consumption and circular economy as important criteria to evaluate their suppliers. It’s an incentive for the industry to change.

Fintech Innovation of the Year Award

Tigo Tanzania – through its MFS, Tigo Pesa, Tigo has fostered financial inclusion for more than 50,000 farmers in Tanzania via the Tigo Kilimo initiative that supports farmers in rural areas by ensuring they are instantly paid when they sell produce, reducing the risk of delayed payments and high admin costs.

Vodacom Tanzania – The proliferation of new electronic and mobile instruments has opened the door to a possible revolution of the payments landscape. Therefore, Vodacom intends to develop a computer system that will integrate M-PESA and BUREAU DE CHANGE. The intention is to contribute to creating a cashless society and motivate society to transfer money in M-PESA for numerous usages instead of carrying large amounts of cash on hand, thus decreasing theft or loss of money that might occur during movements to and from the BUREAU DE CHANGE, as well as speed up transactions.

Mukuru – a leading next gen fintech company headquartered in Africa, offers affordable and reliable international money transfers and services addressing the broader financial needs of over 13 million customers. Operating in 50+ countries, Mukuru puts customers at the centre of everything they do by serving clients across physical and digital channels, by various payment methods.

Startup of the Year Award

Botlhale AI Solutions – breaking language barriers for African businesses and their customers by unleashing the power of human language technologies in African languages. Our Natural Language Processing tools make this possible by enabling seamless digital interactions. From Multilingual Chatbots to Call Centre analytics, we are redefining communication allowing businesses to communicate with their customers in languages they trust and understand.

JOBJACK – a web-based platform that has reached nearly 2M job seeker user registrations and is servicing over 5,000 employer sites across South Africa. JOBJACK is currently changing the narrative of entry-level recruitment: automating the process for companies and making it affordable for job seekers.

It’s Learnable LLC – Addressing SDG-4, Learnable is an AI-driven educational app designed for Africa endorsed by organisations like the African Union, World Economic Forum, and Deloitte. It’s also officially contracted by UNESCO to provide education to over 1 million youths, all while addressing the digital divide through affordable delivery channels.

Healthtech Innovation of the Year Award

HealthX Africa – delivers a doctor for every Kenyan, providing affordable and accessible medical and mental health consultations to patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through digital health solutions and telemedicine. They are taking strides to serve the millions of Kenyans who are challenged to access traditional health services, and specifically targeting communities isolated through geography or situation (eg patients with disabilities) and are deeply impact and vision focused.

Vodafone Egypt – at the forefront of Healthcare Digital Transformation in Egypt with a vision to be the healthcare solution provider of choice, bridging the gap between health and care in Africa, through such projects as; the Universal Health Insurance that is reforming the Egyptian health insurance scheme through a complete ecosystem across 6 governorates across 359 facilities serving 5 million citizens. Secondly, the digitization of the Egyptian University Hospitals, is a project at the intersection between Healthcare and Education in 80 university hospitals across 12 universities and serving 10 million patients yearly.

Zendawa – In Africa, the biggest challenges facing healthcare is access and cost. Neighbourhood pharmacies account for 66% of primary healthcare providers. Zendawa is a B2B SaaS company building an end-to-end digital platform that is enabling neighbourhood pharmacies to sell online and offer e-consultation.

Creative Visionary Award

Andile Ncube, Reality TV Star, TV Host & Radio Broadcaster – an award-winning South African producer, radio broadcaster and reality TV personality. Starring in the Netflix reality TV show Young, Famous & African, he has been a prominent figure in the television industry since 2003 and is best known for hosting the live Mzansi Friday night music show.

Khutso Theledi, Radio Broadcaster – her remarkable radio journey started back in 2012, when she began her career at YFM as a co-host and traffic presenter on the breakfast show, “Flava In The Morning,” captivating listeners from 6:00 to 9:00 AM. She has established herself as a prominent figure in the industry, showcasing her talent and passion for radio. In 2022, she joined Metro FM, and hosts her own show on Metro FM titled “BreakAway With Khutso Theledi”, which allows her to connect with audiences in her unique and captivating style, providing an entertaining and informative mid-morning radio experience.

Simone Venter, Marketing Professional & TikTok Influencer – a marketing professional whose story took an exciting twist when she partnered with a political activist organization. She uses the digital world’s power to express ideas, spark discussions, and shed light on pressing issues. Employing a blend of innuendos, sarcasm, satire, and humour as a channel for raising awareness about often-overlooked realities obscured by mainstream narratives. As an Ambassador for Africa, her resolve is to cultivate understanding, transcend disparities, and weave a global tapestry where diverse voices harmonize for positive change. Simone is an established TikTok influencer, amassing over 360,000 followers and over 4 million likes.

The Awards will take place at The Bay Hotel in Cape Town on 15 November 2023 and this year, is a formal gala dinner to celebrate excellence. Tickets are limited and would-be guests are encouraged to book early.

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