Facebook’s has announced the 2016 Innovation Challenge in Africa. The goal of this Challenge is to recognize developers and entrepreneurs who are using internet-based solutions to promote education and economic empowerment in countries throughout the continent. This follows the success of the Innovation Challenge in India, where apps using the internet to improve the lives of women, students, farmers and migrant workers were recognized and rewarded.

Individuals and organizations in Africa are finding new ways to integrate the Internet’s potential to provide solutions for everyday problems. In recognition of this, the Challenge focuses on two main categories: Learning and Education, where technology is used to inspire and deliver learning, and Economic Empowerment, where the aim is to advance the economic strength and ability of communities.

The Innovation Challenge Award of US $150,000 will go to the app, website or service judged to be the best in each of the two categories. The winners will also be eligible to receive up to $80,000 USD in tools and services from FbStart, a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their apps. In addition, two Impact Award prizes in the amount of $50,000 USD will be presented to two apps, websites or services designed for each of the two categories.

The judges are Ike Eze of electronic transaction platform eTranzact, Ameet Suri from, Nikhil Khanna of SME financiers Awethu Project, and business journalist Terryanne Chebet of Citizen TV Kenya.

“The Innovation Challenge in Africa supports our vision of a connected world by recognizing those who are working on solutions that aim to improve education and economic health of communities in Africa,” said Ime Archibong, director of Strategic Partnerships at Facebook in a statement.

“We look forward to seeing how African developers are providing real value for their communities”, he added. “By connecting people and empowering them with access to services and information, we can help them achieve extraordinary things and help them to enhance their lives.”

Applications are open, and developers across Africa are invited to enter the challenge. The deadline for applications is 1 May 2016, and winners will be announced in August/September 2016.

Eric Mugendi Author

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