MIT innovation challenge targeting Africa


Up for grabs: $1.6 million

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has moved to select Liquid Telecom as it’s official partner for the 2019 Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) in Africa, giving the continent’s technology visionaries an opportunity to win awards with a total value of $1.6 million.

A laptop
A laptop. Copyright : Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

“Liquid Telecom is looking forward to working with MIT on delivering the IIC in Africa as it is aligned with our mission to support innovation, using digital technology, across the continent,” said  Liquid Telecom’s Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Ben Roberts.

“As an African company, greater inclusion in both the creation and application of technology is fundamental to Liquid Telecom. We are happy to help IIC reach more entrepreneurs and innovators across the continent,” Roberts added.

An announcement made in Nairobi, Kenya today (16/04/2019) explained that MIT’s IIC has challenged entrepreneurs around the world to re-invent the way technology innovation is harnessed and this year’s the challenge will take place on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the US and Canada.

Liquid Telecom is a leading communications solutions provider across 13 countries primarily in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.

Devin Cook the IIC Executive Producer, sees a “revolution afoot” to create high-tech jobs and skills training that bring people more fully into the digital age.

“Our vision is an economy that works for all,” Cook said. To achieve this, the IIC serves as a catalyst to “accelerate entrepreneurs who are already making our vision a reality.” In addition, the challenge wants “to drive a solutions-oriented conversation about the future of work.”

Important dates

The registration process which is now open, is expected to end on May 9th, 2019 and regional finalists will be announced by July 23rd 2019 at a regional ceremony. The challenge will culminate with a Global Grand Prize Gala at MIT on November 21st, 2019.

Since 2016, 3,000 organisations from more than 100 nations have registered for the IIC. The challenge has also worked with more than 100 Global Outreach Partners, 500 judges, and drawn 3,300 event attendees, since.

About previous challenge

There were 100 winners in last year’s competition. They were awarded a total of $3.5 million towards development of various solutions. These ranged from agricultural climate apps for African farmers to training courses for US healthcare workers and coding boot camps in India and the Middle East.

“We believe that inclusive innovation – the use of technology to generate increased economic opportunity for moderate and low income earners – is an imperative with a tight deadline,” said IDE Director, Erik Brynjolfsson. “The question we should be asking isn’t ‘what is technology going to do to our economy and society,’ but rather, ‘what will we do with technology’?”