Nigeria Emerges First in Africa Netpreneur Competition

  • Foundation sets aside $10m prize in 10 years

Emma Okonji

Nigeria, Egypt and Rwanda have emerged as top three winners among the selected ten finalists for the Netpreneur technology competition, sponsored by Alibaba Foundation for Africa.

The winners were announced on Saturday during the Netpreneur 2019 Conference, which held in Accra, Ghana.

The Alibaba Foundation has set aside $10 million to be won by 100 entrepreneurs in the next ten years.

Temie Giwa-Tobsun of LifeBank from Nigeria emerged the first winner, Omar Sakr from Egypt emerged the second winner, while Christelle Kwizera from Rwanda emerged third winner.

All contestants at the 2019 Netpreneur prize award showcased their solutions to a great audience, which included the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, the 8th UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, Mr. Jack Ma, among others.

While the top ten winners got a collective $1 million prize, the first winner went home with $250,000, the second winner got $150,000, and the third winner got $100,000, while the remaining seven winners went home with $65,000 each.

In his address, the Founder of Alibaba Foundation, Jack Ma, said the initiative was meant encourage and support young entrepreneurs who are the hope of Africa.

“Entrepreneurs are problems solvers who always challenge the things that people do not believe will work. There are lots of challenges and opportunities in Africa which only tech entrepreneurs who are the heroes of Africa can address, and we need to support entrepreneurs in Africa,” Ma said, adding that good entrepreneurs open the radar, search for challenges and create opportunities out of challenges for others.

He listed the four ‘Es’ which African entrepreneurs must stand on to include education, eGovernment, e-Infrastructure and entrepreneur skills.

He encouraged young African entrepreneurs to continue to innovate and called on African governments to support and empower young African entrepreneurs.

In his welcome address, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, thanked the Alibaba Foundation, especially its founder, Jack Ma, for believing in the Africa growth and for sponsoring the Netprenure competition among African entrepreneurs. He said Africans must take entrepreneurs very seriously and support them to promote development in the African continent. According to him, the population of Africa remained huge and should be seen as opportunity for growth in entrepreneurship programmes. “Entrepreneurship is a vital component of economic growth that will enhance economic development and Ghana will continue to support technology innovation and promote the growth of technology entrepreneurs in Africa,” Akufo-Addo said.

In his speech, the 8th United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, said failure drives opportunity for success. He therefore encouraged African entrepreneurs to continue to innovate in order to come up with solutions that will not only address African challenges, but also global challenges. He said Africans must empower their youths, including females to drive the technology development in Africa. He commended Alibaba Foundation for its initiative to develop Africa through the Netprenure competition, which he said, would spur young African entrepreneurs to innovate and change the face of Africa with technology.