By Ronald Musoke
Global technological giants Google have joined the ‘Africa rising’ bandwagon by launching a competition in which entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and web lovers across the continent will share their stories of how the web has transformed their lives and work.
“Whether you’re a photographer, an entrepreneur, a fashion designer or a community activist, if the internet and Google tools have played an important role in your success, Google wants to hear from you,” read part of the media statement from Google.
Google’s new initiative, ‘Africa Connected; Success stories powered by the web’, aims to gather the largest collection of inspiring stories about ventures established online by Africans, in Africa.
At the launch of the competition in Nairobi on Aug. 27, the Google Lead for Africa Connected, Affiong Osuchukwu said five winners will each receive US$25,000 (about Ushs 62.5m) and will also have the opportunity to work with a Google mentor over a six-month period.
“Google wants to hear from young, spirited entrepreneurial web adopters in Sub-Saharan Africa who have a healthy disregard for the impossible and who are using the web and technology to do cool and extraordinary things to rise above their circumstances, change their world, and achieve success.
Osuchukwu gave the example of a Kenyan electro/pop group, ‘Just a Band,’ which used YouTube to learn how to create a new style of Kenyan music with electronic nuances.
He said although the band’s innovative sound was initially rejected in Kenya, they refused to take no for an answer and started sharing their music on YouTube which instantly cultivated for them a huge fan base and success – so much so that they now regularly travel to play at festivals in the UK, USA, other African countries and all over Europe.
“We want to showcase the amazing achievements happening in the new Africa,” said Osuchukwu.
Osuchukwu noted that technology is internationally acknowledged as the engine of development and economic growth.
“It is a revolution favouring accelerated development that gives us the possibility to address national and global challenges in distinctly new ways,” he said.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is partnering with Google in the initiative and the UNDP Kenya Country Director, Maria-Threase Keating, noted that the Google campaign shall highlight how Africans can harness computing and internet services for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The deadline for submissions is Oct. 11.