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Demo Africa announces 40 best tech start-ups

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Africa may have missed out on the industrial revolution, but we surely will not in the ICT revolution. Dr. Omobola Johnson.

DEMO has released the names of the 40 start-ups that have qualified to launch their products on the DEMO Africa stage in September 2014.

Topping the list is Nigeria with 14 start-ups qualifying, followed by Kenya, Ghana and Egypt.

According to the Ministry of Communication Technology, at the weekend, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethiopia would each have two representatives while Tunisia, Benin, Cameroon, Uganda and Zimbabwe had earned their space at the DEMO Africa platform, according to the report.

DEMO Africa is the flagship initiative of the Liberating Innovation in Opportunity Nations or LIONS@FRICA partnership, an innovative new partnership aimed at enhancing and deepening start-up and innovation ecosystems of fast-growing African economies.

LIONS@FRICA brings together the US State Department, Microsoft, Nokia, InfoDEV, and the United States Agency for International Development, among others, to support and amplify Africa’s budding startup and innovation ecosystem.

According to a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Communication Technology on Media, Mrs. Efem Nkanga, more than 400 applications were received for the DEMO Africa 2014, but only 242 met the threshold for the adjudication. Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana recorded the highest number of entries, it stated.

Out of 12 categories for application, Nkanga said communication attracted the highest number of applications with 76 applications received, and the category would have the highest number of representation with 14 projects of the final 40 being in this category, it said.

She informed that the finance and banking would also have a good representation of eight out of 18 entries received.

Other categories that will have high representation on the DEMO Africa stage, according to her, include retail, health and education.

Start-ups, however, shied away from water and sanitation, and waste management and recycling. No entries were recorded for these two categories, an indication that stakeholders still had to work on entrepreneurs’ confidence to encourage homemade solutions across all sectors, she noted.

Commending the African entrepreneurs, the Minister for Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, was quoted as saying, “This presents another opportunity for African tech start-ups. Africa may have missed out on the industrial revolution, but we surely will not in the ICT revolution. Through innovation, we will put Nigeria and Africa in general on the ICT map.

“Realising the huge potential of the software industry, we have put in place a set of initiatives that will assist the tech startups to create successful businesses, which will directly create jobs and wealth.”

The DEMO Africa Executive Producer, Harry Hare, reportedly acknowledged the efforts by all the participating start-ups and called upon the investors to support the work of the young entrepreneurs.

He said, “We had really amasing entries this year, but unfortunately the DEMO Africa team can only accommodate 40 for now.”

Hare said the high number of entries was inspiring, adding, “It only shows that entrepreneurs have risen above the fear of venturing into new waters to create new products.”

He said, “This in itself shows that confidence levels in Africa-made solutions are steadily rising. I am confident that we will get to levels where we can generate solutions that can be applied globally.”


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