AfCFTA Caravan Prize: Africa’s top innovators feted

The winners of the AfCFTA Caravan Prize have been announced during a gala dinner at the Arab Africa Trade Forum. They were congratulated as Africa’s top innovators in creating solutions towards tackling pressing challenges in the continent.

From a list of ten finalists, five winners, who will now be financially supported in their innovations journeys were announced, showcasing the immense tech talent that exists in Africa.

The grant prize winner is Senegalese software engineer Bernie Akporiaye, chief executive and co-founder of Matontine, which provides access to small loans and financial services like micro-insurance to the financially excluded in Francophone Africa. 

Nigerian co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Medics2You Dr John Afolayan was bagged the commendation prize for his telemedicine innovation, which offers cross-border medical services to individuals, businesses and healthcare organisations in Africa.

South Africa’s Mathiew de Gaudemar, co-founder and CEO of Kudoti, also scooped the commendation prize for his ambitions to change business perspectives from ‘waste’ to ‘recovered materials’ through supply chain solutions. Kudoti tracks recyclable waste in real-time and matches it to demand, thereby improving market conditions for waste materials, which drives up recycling behaviour.

Zimbabwe’s Mildreight Muzendu was also feted with a commendation prize for her efforts founding AFTA Cargo, a modern logistics startup that aims to grow Africa’s cargo management prowess.

Founder of Tekizo Africa Purity Gakuo, a Kenyan, was awarded for her startup’s success in empowering small-scale businesses in Africa through innovative and technology based solutions, enabling them increase their income and better their livelihoods.

A key criterion for the selection of the finalists was for startups and their founders to conceive and implement models, concepts, plans, products and/or services that, at scale, can contribute to the objectives of AfCFTA and the broader Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

The finalists and semi-finalists were selected by jurors with a rich background in the development and economic transformation sectors.

AfCFTA said their selection further reflects their institutions’ strong commitment to its agenda, startup innovation and inclusive growth.

The AfCFTA Caravan Prize celebrates Africa’s SMEs, startups, social enterprises and innovator entities keen on harnessing the benefits that will be created by AfCFTA to expand continentally and flourish at the grassroots.

Growing out of the earlier AfCFTA Vision and Caravan Africa competitive grants programs, the prize seeks to discover transformative ideas to expedite AfCFTA implementation.

Organisers said it is component of the broader Caravan Initiative, which itself is a flagship of the AU-led 4D Initiative. The Caravan platform aims to provide extensive soft infrastructure to boost the capacity of SMEs and startups in Africa to expand beyond their home country.

“If there is one hope that animates everything we do as a Secretariat, it is that AfCFTA must become the most inclusive and most digital Free Trade Area and Process in the World. By focusing on SMEs, digital innovation, gender and equitable transformation, the AfCFTA Caravan Prize will serve as a continental beacon for Agenda 2063. I celebrate the Prize Laureates for sharing our vision and thank the Jury and Partners for stepping up to the challenge,” AfCFTA said in a statement.

Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of AfCFTA Secretariat said the initiative is at the base of the ProPer Network, a supply chain quality assurance program created to ensure that the “Rules of Origin” system at the heart of AfCFTA works for both governments and businesses.

“Caravan also powers the “jobs in green tech” program, the Digital Green Corridor, designed to promote a trade and investment corridor for Africa’s clean tech entrepreneurs to benefit from AfCFTA and the ongoing global green shift simultaneously,” he explained.

However, Director Genera of Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) Dr Sidi Ould said Africa cannot take advantage of AfCFTA to industrialise and eradicate poverty until three things happen: SMEs absorb tech to boost productivity, wealth from productivity growth is equitably shared, and the scale of growth becomes regional.

“The AfCFTA Caravan Laureates exemplify how we can achieve all 3 goals, hence our enthusiastic support as BADEA for this initiative,” he said.

Former President of Niger and African Union AfCFTA Champion Mahamadou Issoufou said of all the flagships meant to take Africa to Agenda 2063, AfCFTA remains the most critical.

“But AfCFTA itself must have flagships. I think that there is no better candidate than the Caravan Initiative, of which the AfCFTA Caravan Prize is a major component. Caravan’s emphasis on youth, gender, equity & technology provides all the pillars for erecting a vision of AfCFTA that all sections of African society can rally behind. It is as much a banner as a flagship,” he remarked.

AfCFTA says it aims at accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.

The AfCFTA Agreement was signed on 21st March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, came into force on 30 May 2019.

The scope of the AfCFTA Agreement includes the Protocol on Trade in Goods, the Protocol on Trade in Services, and the Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes, the Protocol on Investment, the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights, the Protocol on Competition, the Protocol on Digital Trade, and the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade.

Below are lists of finalists and semi-finalists for the AfCFTA Caravan Prize as announced by the AfCFTA Secretariat and its partners on the 4D, ProPer and Caravan Initiatives, AfroChampions and the Arab Bank for Economic Development (BADEA).

AfCFTA Caravan Prize Finalists

  • Bernie Akporiaye – MATONTINE
  • Dr John Afolayan – Medics2You
  • Fokou Hugures Bertin – WhatsNear
  • Piwai Nigel Chilasha – Alley Capital Group (PVT) LTD
  • Matthieu Gaudemar – Kudoti
  • Tapuwa Ndongwe – Wecol Limited
  • Jean LOBE LOBE – Waspito
  • Dennis Onkangi Onkundi – Tekizo Africa Limited
  • Oritseweyinmi Sisan Tuedon – PostOff
  • Mildreight Muzendu – Africa Free Trade Area (AFTA)

AfCFTA Caravan Prize Finalists

  • Langton Chirinda – GUNDI Consulting
  • Alex Mativo – NANASI
  • Abdullahi Muhammad Bature – Schoola
  • Edem Adjamagbo – Samoa
  • Roy Jere (Clean Cooking Technology Solution) – Kainos Afro-Green Energy
  • Andre Hackett – SCHOOL OF NEW AFRICA
  • Rukudzo Chikonye – Agora
  • Serge Olivier KITT EKOTTO – YADOO PAY
  • Apegu- Eolu Julius Nelson – (Transforming Soil Health though Biodynamics Agriculture for Food Security and Wealth)
  • Gugulethu Nyathi – Ribbon Blockchain

Afcacia seeks to be a powerful tech mouthpiece, giving a voice to your products and services in a way that has never seen before.