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40 start-ups for DEMO Africa

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The DEMO Africa event will be held on 24-25 October 2013 in Nairobi and will launch 40 of the most innovative start-ups in Africa.

‚”It gives me great pleasure to announce DEMO Africa 2013. Just like last year, we will be looking for the best of the best technology start-ups to launch on a global platform,‚” Harry Hare, Executive Producer, DEMO Africa said. ‚”The bar is set even higher this year as we take the companies that have the highest potential and expose them to the investors, media and technology buyers.‚”

The application process to participate in DEMO Africa is now open to technology entrepreneurs from across the continent. To be eligible to launch products must solve a real commercial problem: make an impact or change the marketplace into which it is introduced or create a new market: have a business plan and a management team capable of delivering the product to market: and must make its public debut at the DEMO Africa conference.

The inaugural DEMO Africa event took place last October 24-26, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. It provided a platform for 40 of the most innovative technology products from companies across the African continent with the opportunity to launch before a global audience of investors, media, strategic buyers, C-level executives and other entrepreneurs. This was the first time ever that a DEMO event was hosted on African soil.

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 startup and innovation ecosystems of fast-growing African economies. LIONS@FRICA brings together the U.S. State Department, Microsoft, Nokia, InfoDEV, the African Development Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development,DEMO, Startup Weekend, Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST), Venture Capital for Africa, Appfrica, Business Action for Africa, Business Fights Poverty, and the Global Entrepreneurship Week to support and amplify Africa’s budding startup and innovation ecosystem.

According to the organisers, the DEMO Africa 2012 alumni have raised an estimated US$ 8 million in investment and/or business value.

‚”We have received very good feedback from the DEMO 2012 Alumni,‚” said Brian Longwe, DEMO Africa, Event Director. ‚”Most of the companies that launched have either raised the investment they were looking for, created partnerships with other companies or their businesses have experienced good growth after the launch,‚” Longwe said.

Five out of the 40 companies that launched will be participating at DEMO Silicon Valley in October 2013. ‚”We are very excited to be hosting five DEMO Africa Lions in the US at the US edition of DEMO. This is in line with providing a global platform for startups from Africa to showcase and hold their own at a global platform,‚” said Neal Silverman, DEMO, Senior Vice President.

A series of DEMO Africa innovation tours, investor roundtable workshops and a boot camp for the finalists have been planned ahead of the main event in October. Last year, the DEMO Africa team held a series of innovation tour meet ups and three investor roundtables in Cape Town, Nairobi and Lagos. ‚”We expect to visit more countries this year and have more engagement with the investor community,‚” said Hare.

Applications will be handled by VC4Africa, a platform for showcasing African ventures and a trusted DEMO Africa partner. ‚”We are now ready to receive applications for those high potential start-ups who want to be considered for launching at the DEMO Africa platform,‚” added Ben White, a Founder of the VC4Africa network.

To apply to launch at DEMO Africa go to http://demoafrica2013.com.

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Africa gets broadband boost

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ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

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Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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