Africa’s tech giants honoured at maiden Technovate Awards

BY: Emmanuel Bruce

Fifteen companies and two individuals have been honoured at the maiden edition of the Africa Technovate Awards Fair which seeks to identify, recognise and award technology companies across the continent for their contribution to the development of technology in Africa.

The Chairman of Ghana Dot Com, Prof Nii Narku Quarnor, who is regarded as the father of internet in Africa walked away with the ultimate award on the night, winning the Lifetime Achievers Award for his contribution to the digitisation and innovation on the continent.

The CEO of Hubtel, Alex Bram, also won the Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Decade, with his company also winning the Fintech Company of the Year.

Esoko, BIMA, Africa ICT Right, and Academic City, also won in the agribusiness, insurance, health, and education categories, respectively.

Other award winners included Chatsbot Africa, Enterprise Computing, Msoft Ghana Limited, Gambia Tech Project, Soko Aerial, and Isolutions Associates.

The rest are DreamOval, Delbond Teknologies Limited (Dtek), Research ICT Africa, and Hanergy Global Ghana Ltd.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Chair of the Awards Board, Dr Ken Ashigbey, said 45 companies and six individuals were nominated in 17 categories for the maiden edition of the awards.

He said the awards was AIDEC’s unique contribution to the development and uplifting of technology and digitalization across Africa.

“The Awards aims to motivate and challenge technology and innovation companies that are driving digital solutions development and those adapting them to business.

“As Africa advances regional trade links under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), increase competition will call for customer centricity, speed to market and innovative solutions to addressing conventional problems,” he stated.

He said digitization and digitalization under AfCFTA would facilitate the flow of goods, ideas and capital as well as bolster innovation in the public and private sectors of Africa.

Innovation systems

The country Director for GIZ, Regina Bauerochse Barbosa Highres, in her keynote address pointed out that for more than a decade, Africa had exemplified the potential of dynamic innovation ecosystems in combination with a tech-savvy population to realise economic opportunities while at the same time, reducing disparities.

She said as an integral factor in the pursuit of the agenda 2063 of the African Union, the digital development strategy (2020-2030) emphasises the role of digital transformation as a lever for integrated sustainable and inclusive development.

“It addresses the untapped potential of millions of offline and unbanked inhabitants, while considering risks arising from an existing and growing digital income and gender gap.

“In contrast to the thriving start-up scene in urban centres like Accra, it is particularly rural areas and informal businesses that have not yet fully benefitted from the opportunities of digital transformation,” she stated.

Digital led strategies

The Secretary General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, in a goodwill message, said in order to make an economy grow and become more competitive in the 21st century global economy, the industrial, economic and related policies must be anchored on digital- led strategies.

He said digital technology had evolved significantly and rapidly over the past few years.

“Digital technologies are crucial for expediting the movement of goods, services and capital across borders.

“The need to use technology in the trade procedures has accelerated and been reinforced with the outbreak of the coronavirus of pandemic,” he stated.

He said digital technology had also changed how cross-border trade transactions were carried out, noting that trade transactions of goods and services were now enabled digitally and delivered either digitally or physically.

“That is, what we now call 'digital trade,” he said.