Support African innovators: The importance of strategic partnerships between business and government

One of the Innovation Prize for Africa’s (IPA) key priorities is to ensure that entrants in the competition, whether they win or not, are supported either through funding or resourcing by NGOs, and the public and privates sectors. The support should go beyond the competition to ensure that innovators continue their efforts in bringing about positive change with a view to creating employment in their communities.

It would seem that the more prominent the IPA competition becomes, reaching more African countries, the more governments, international and local business in various countries are heeding the call.

African Innovation Foundation (AIF) the founder of the IPA Awards, is proud to announce thatMobenzi, a former finalist in the IPA 2013 edition was selected as one of the initial partners for the Mobile for Development mHealth program. Andi Friedman and his team from South Africa were IPA 2013 finalists, selected for developing the Mobenzi Researcher and Mobenzi Outreach mobile platforms that allow sophisticated forms of research to be conducted across Africa, online or via mobile phones.

Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) has announced that its Mobile for Development mHealth program has launched a new cross-ecosystem partnership designed to provide a range of mHealth services to women and children with a particular focus on nutrition across Sub-Saharan Africa. GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, spanning more than 220 countries and uniting nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.

Partners for the Mobile for Development mHealth program include Gemalto, Hello Doctor, Lifesaver, Mobilium, MTN, Omega Diagnostics, Samsung and Mobenzi.

For the AIF, an organisation which plays a vital role in encouraging individuals with novel solutions designed to confront agricultural, environmental, health, ICT and industrialisation issues in communities, this is very positive development and the kind of action between strategic players that we are always happy to see.

Mobenzi Researcher is used for the collection of baseline data through conducting household surveys, patient interviews and healthcare facility audits.

The annual IPA awards are designed to mobilize African innovators by offering a cash prize of USD 150,000 to Africa’s ground-breaking innovators.

We are proud that the innovators who enter the IPA competition actually get to see the return on their investment. Such strategic partnerships will ensure ongoing growth and sustained development of the African continent.

The Mobenzi platforms can be used by any organisation involved in research, data collection, community-based healthcare, agriculture, education, social development and field-based intervention projects.

Governments, the business sector and various stakeholders must recognise the importance of retaining this cohort of innovators and treat such partnerships as an important policy objective for developing the African continent. The only way to ensure the sustainable development of the African continent is for these leading bodies to step in and play the important role of on-going support to home-grown ‘Afropreneurs’.

Applications for the IPA 2015 competition are now being accepted. The closing date for entries is 31stOctober 2014 at 23h59 GMT.

For further details please visit www.innovationprizeforafrica.org, and contact Pauline Mujawamariya at p.mujawamariya@africaninnovation.org for any inquiries on IPA.

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By Pauline Mujawamariya, Director for the Innovation Prize for Africa.