Open Collaboration for African Techies
The Tech Trailblazers Awards strengthens African ties with AfriLabs Partnerships
Last week, 1st August 2013 – The global enterprise tech startups awards, The Tech Trailblazers (@techtrailblaze) announced a partnership with AfriLabs (@Afrilabs), a pan-African network of technology and innovation hubs promoting the growth and development of the African technology sector. AfriLabs believes that by working together, individual labs improve the chances of success and create greater opportunities for its members.
With 20 accelerators and hubs in 13 countries across Africa and an active social media following, AfriLabs is the largest tech hub network in Africa and in the perfect position to support a partnership that reaches across multiple countries on the continent.
As part of the partnership with the Tech Trailblazers Awards, AfriLabs is now able to offer its members a chance to gain visibility with some of the technology industry’s most influential people across the world via the judging panel, as well as offering the platform for them to compete in a globally recognised enterprise technology competition, with categories including cloud, mobile, info security, big data, virtualisation, networking, storage, sustainable IT and emerging markets. In addition, all African entrants will be automatically entered for the Middle East and Africa Cup.
AfriLabs Director Tayo Akinyemi said about the partnership, “Partnering with the Tech Trailblazers Awards is a great opportunity for AfriLabs to enable its network members to be rewarded for their innovation. Making new connections with the judging network, having the chance to win great sponsor prizes and receiving visibility on an international scale is very exciting.”
Rose Ross, Founder and Chief Trailblazer said, “Being able to reach into Africa and bring their finest in enterprise technology to a global platform is going to be a great experience and it will be interesting to see how they compare with all the other entrants from around the world.”
The new African partnerships add to the collaboration with Silicon Cape, Ventureburn and Tech News. The Tech Trailblazers Awards is open to entries until September 12th 2013.
Last year’s winners and runners-up are listed at http://techtrailblazers.com/tech-trailblazers-winners-2012/
The Tech Trailblazers Awards 2014 are now open. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive regular updates or more information, follow @techtrailblaze on Twitter or via the hashtag #TTAwards, or visit Tech Trailblazers on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/tech-trailblazers-awards.
About the Tech Trailblazers Awards - www.techtrailblazers.com @techtrailblaze
Tech Trailblazers is a new concept in awards, designed explicitly for smaller businesses and startups that are five years old or less and at C-series funding or below. The awards have low barriers to entry and prizes that not only recognize startup innovation, but also proactively help startups grow their businesses with access to exclusive coaching, mentoring and development and prizes from a prize fund worth an estimated $1m+. The awards include the following categories:
In addition to the above categories, all entrants are automatically entered into the Regional Trailblazers Cup competition free of charge. The Regional Cups include:
AfriLabs is a pan-African network of tech and innovation hubs founded to support the growth of communities around African technology hubs. Each hub serves as a nexus for technologists, investors, tech companies and web/mobile engineers in its community. AfriLabs was formed to support these hubs and bolster technology as a platform for entrepreneurship and innovation. Ultimately, AfriLabs believes it will have impact by supporting the growth of Africa’s knowledge economy through the development of an innovation infrastructure composed of hubs and other key stakeholders.
Yes, indeed! After going through all the hurdles that you can only go through in Cameroon to open up an office, we’re glad to announce that ActivSpaces’ incubator in Douala will open its doors on Saturday, June 15th.
Djoss.tv, the winner of the Cameroon Startup Challenge 2012 is the first team that will make use of this space. We’re eager to get in touch with the several other Douala-based startups that have engaged us over the past few months seeking incubation. Consider this another open call for membership applications.
Startups incubated at our Douala hub will be able to benefit from a front street location in the heart of Akwa, surrounded by businesses and the energizing buzz of commerce. Mentors from our powerful benefactor, AppsTech, will scarcely be further than a flight of stairs away. This is going to be the place for ventures that feel they’re ready for action.
We’re inviting the entire technology startup community to join us at ActivSpaces Douala to celebrate this milestone. We’ve planned some creative activity so that we can own the space and the moment together. So come prepared for fun and refreshments and let’s get ready to activate Douala!
Where: ActivSpaces Douala, AppsTech Building, Akwa.
When: Saturday, June 15th, 2:00 PM
We’ll be doing a brief presentation on ActivSpaces, our mission and our milestones. We want the community to understand that they own this space and it’s there to support innovation. We’re looking for ambassadors to help spread this message.
Also, ActivSpaces Douala is still a quite bare. We’re going to be getting our hands a little dirty to decorate the space and imbue it with our spirit. So come prepared to participate and feel free to bring props of your own. We’ll end the day with networking and refreshments. Look forward to seeing you there!
AfriLabs, the African tech hub association, gathers for first annual meeting at re:publica
AfriLabs (afrilabs.com), a pan-African network of 19 technology and innovation hubs in 13 African countries, is convening for its first annual meeting on Saturday, May 4thin the lead up to re:publica. At this event— Europe’s largest conference on internet and society in Berlin— AfriLabs and GIZ are hosting a global gathering of hubs to stimulate networking, knowledge exchange and collaboration. AfriLabs’ pre-re:publica meeting will provide a unique opportunity for the network to chart the way forward as a community.
“The AfriLabs community is excited to convene for the first time as a network in Berlin, and participate in re:publica,” says Director Tayo Akinyemi. “This is an unprecedented opportunity for us to connect with one another and with a global community of innovators. All are welcome to join us at the Global Innovation Lounge—“hub central” for re:publica—to meet AfriLabs, engage with hubs across the globe, and contribute to the dialogue.”
Africa has witnessed a growing number of tech hubs, each of which serves as a physical nexus for developers, entrepreneurs, and investors, emerge across the continent. In response to this trend, AfriLabs was founded in 2010 by five entrepreneurs active in the hub space —Bart Lacroix, Co-Founder of NaiLab and the 1%CLUB, Ben White, Co-Founder of VC4Africa and Board Member of ActivSpaces, Bill Zimmerman, Co-Founder of ActivSpaces and VC4Africa, Erik Hersman, Co-Founder of iHub and Ushahidi, and Jon Gosier, Founder of Appfrica and Hive Colab—who believed that bringing African hubs together to learn and collaborate would enable them to maximize impact within their local ecosystems and affect change at a regional and pan-African level.
With initial support from Hivos, AfriLabs is working to facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration inside the network and beyond. AfriLabs is also partnering with infoDev and four East African tech hubsto pilot virtual incubation in the region. In addition to consolidating the network, AfriLabs seeks to expand. With over 90 hubs on the African continent, there is significant scope for growing the community. In t hat spirit, AfriLabs welcomes six new members to the network: CTIC Dakar (Senegal), The District (Egypt), kLab (Rwanda), icecairo (Egypt), iLab Nairobi (Kenya), and m:lab (Kenya), and hopes to invite many more in the coming months.
The AfriLabs looks forward to engaging with the global community of innovators in Berlin @re:publica from May 5th-8th. Please visit the re:publica website to learn more.
Geraldine de Bastion
M: +49 1799975766
About the Partners:
AfriLabs is a pan-African network of technology and innovation hubs. Each hub serves as a nexus for technologists, investors, tech companies and web/mobile engineers in its community. AfriLabs was formed to support these hubs and bolster technology as a platform for entrepreneurship and innovation. afrilabs.com
What started as a “class reunion” of bloggers, Internet activists, and researchers has become Germany’s and Europe’s largest and most prominent conference on the future of our society and all things digital. Unlike other conferences which focus on marketing and the usual “show and tell”, re:publica brings together communities, leading thinkers of our time with activists and engaged organizations to share experiences. re:publica attracts over 4,000 participants but has preserved an open and familiar atmosphere. re:publica works with national and international cooperation partners and attracts renowned speakers such as Lawrence Lessig and Jeff Jarvis. As Berlin is currently the hot spot for creative Internet industries in Europe, re:publica also offers an ideal floor to meet with start-ups, IT and creative industry representatives and funders. www.re-publica.de
About GIZ -An innovative partner for the global challenges of tomorrow
The wide range of services offered by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für InternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH are based on a wealth of regional and technical expertise and on tried and tested management know-how. GIZ is a German federal enterprise and offers workable, sustainable and effective solutions in political, economic and social change processes. GIZ operates throughout Germany and in more than 130 countries worldwide and has than 17,000 staff members around the globe, some 70% of whom are employed locally as national personnel. GIZ’s business volume was about EUR 2 billion as at 31 December 2011. www.giz.de
Google I/O – an annual developer-focused conference – has been organized by Google for every year since 2008 in San Francisco gathering over 5,000 participants. This year, ActivSpaces and GDG Douala are bringing it to Cameroon with Google I/O Extended at AppsTech from May 15th – 17th. That’s the good news. The great news is that you are all invited to participate!
Google I/O features highly technical, in-depth sessions focused on building web, mobile and enterprise applications with Google tools and open web technologies such as Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, Google APIs, Google Web Toolkit, App Engine, and more.
Below is an outline of some of the event’s interesting sessions.
I/O Round Table
Join the round table discussion to learn the meaning behind “I/O” and how this applies to Cameroon in answering some of the grand questions of the day. This is going to be a progressive discussion aimed at generating pragmatic solutions and fostering collaboration in Cameroon’s tech community.
Are you new to coding or eager to try out alternative platforms? Throughout the event there will be more than 4 different Code Lab tutorials ranging from topics like SEO to video game programming. If you’re a programmer in or around the area, you don’t want to miss out on these Code Lab sessions.
There’s going to be a competitive hackathon session at Google I/O ACTIV Extension. The details are a secret… All you need to know for now is that we’re going to be building a fun, interactive web app and the teams or individuals that perform the best will be rewarded with cool Google schwag!
Some of you heard about this event last weekend at GDG BarCamp, but we hope the rest of the community will help us in getting the word out and bringing their energy to make this an awesome event.
To visualize this event more clearly and find out the intriguing little tidbits not mentioned in this blog, you can download the agenda for Google I/O Activ Extension here. Feel free to contact us for more details or if you have an innovation that you would like to present during Demo Time. G+ users can register for the event here.
Our journey with WakaWaka Light started months ago when we came across the innovative solar lamp by serendipity in the small mountain town of Buea. It was immediately clear how much this device could impact our community socially, economically and environmentally. Thus the campaign to bring in a clean, sustainable domestic lighting solution to Cameroon began. We met with challenges right off the bat: coming up with finances to acquire and distribute our first order; a miscalculated delivery that set us back several months — you name it. But through the support of some silent heroes and the goodwill of the community, we managed to successfully run a pilot market.
Old habits die hard. As amazing as clean energy is, it was no easy task convincing some of the rural people of Lysoka to put aside their kerosene lanterns and take up a solar lamp. From their perspective, kerosene lanterns have withstood the test of time; something they are not sure these feeble-looking, plastic solar lamps will.
But the facts are clear: kerosene lanterns are not environmentally friendly, their toxic fumes are personally unhealthy, they present physical danger, and they are uneconomical. Villagers spend on average $48 per annum refueling their lanterns with kerosene. This alone is more than twice the price of one of WakaWaka Light’s solar lamps.
Painting a Revenue Model
During our pilot, solar lamps were sold at the cheapest possible — $20. However, when 25% of the pilot market cried out that units were too expensive, we decided to test how eager they really were for a clean technology solution. We told the people of Lysoka that we would agree to a 50% reduction in price if they threw in their “bush lamps” as well. To our surprise, our pilot came to an end and the (red) balance sheet had a dozen old kerosene lanterns on it.
We took a little background information on the people that gave us their old kerosene lanterns, trying to keep a picture of how that lantern had influenced their lives. A few days later, by serendipity again, we stumbled upon a young artist who had grown up at an orphanage a few miles away from Lysoka. We decided to give the old “bush lamps” to him, trusting his appreciation of a kerosene lantern, and hoping he could help us make a statement about clean technology.
Factoring in Key Partners
Several weeks later, the first pieces in the “Ornament of Darkness” art collection were ready. We’re now hoping to identify our key partners interested in this story; in not only bringing clean technology to the world, but taking toxic technology out; in owning contemporary art made out of old technology from the heart of Africa. In our interactions with a variety of partners during the 48 Lamps campaign, we realized that we could do more than sell solar lamps. We could recycle what was once a toxic instrument into a work of art, capturing its essence while destroying its former vices.
The Next Iteration
On May 10th we’ll be launching the short e-book “Bush Lamp: Ornament of Darkness” that documents many of our discoveries during the 48 Lamps campaign and catalogs Silas Tabi’s latest pieces of art. We’re also preparing for a larger order of WakaWaka solar lamps that will impact several more regions and hopefully produce more art. We’re inviting you to join us on this journey.
Contact us concerning inquiries about how you can support us with the solar lamp distribution or about Silas Tabi’s “Ornament of Darkness” collection.
This blog is a resource for news, project updates, member profiles and community events at ActivSpaces, an open collaboration space, innovation hub and startup incubator for African techies. Based in Buea, Cameroon.