Leading pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Global, is supporting start-ups entering the DataHack4FI innovation competition by providing free high-speed internet access and cloud-based services.
Now in its second year, the DataHack for Financial Inclusion (DataHack4FI) competition, an initiative by insight2impact (i2i), brings together some of the brightest and most innovative minds from across the continent to harness the power of data science to develop new evidence-based solutions to improve financial inclusion.
The competition will be held across six African countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia, where start-ups undergo mentorship and training before presenting their data-driven solutions to a judging panel. The successful start-ups will proceed to the final competition, due to be held in Rwanda in May 2018, where they will compete for seed funding from global investors.
Liquid Telecom will be providing high-speed, reliable connectivity throughout most stages of the competition, including the start-up pitch events, leveraging its pan-African fibre network that stretches over 50,000km and connects more African countries through a single network than any other.
Liquid Telecom will also be providing start-ups in the competition with access to a wide range of cloud-based products and services as part of Go Cloud; a new programme launched by Liquid Telecom and supported by Microsoft aimed at raising awareness, adoption and usage of Azure Cloud across Africa.
Throughout the competition, DataHack4FI entrants will be able to leverage the Microsoft Azure platform to access critical development tools that can be used for data science driven applications and hosting.
“Africa’s future belongs in data science, which will enable a new generation of African entrepreneurs to unlock the potential of exponential volumes of data generated by mobile devices. We are delighted to be supporting i2i DataHack4FI by providing start-ups with access to critical infrastructure that will help generate home-grown products and services that can create new business opportunities and skills as well as expose African talent to the world,” said Ben Roberts, Group CTIO, Liquid Telecom.
In 2017, over 120 individuals competed in the i2i DataHack4FI innovation competition, with three start-ups successfully attracting seed funding from investors at the Transform Africa Summit in Rwanda.
The overall winner of the competition was Kenya-based Mobiticket, which aims to digitise the informal transport system in Kenya by enabling vehicle operators to receive cashless payments. Other examples of innovations presented during the competition included an app that provides financial management and accounting for small and medium-sized businesses in Uganda, and a Facebook-bot that links Zambian students with student-friendly insurance products.
With support from Liquid Telecom, the 2018 i2i DataHack4FI innovation competition aims to attract a greater level of investment in start-ups, while collaborating further with Africa’s financial service providers and the Fintech community. Across all competing countries, there will be start-up pitch events and skills development workshops focused mainly on cloud computing and data science.
“One of the major challenges facing any start-up in Africa today is access to the critical IT infrastructure needed to support, grow and nurture their ideas. With Liquid Telecom’s high speed connectivity and cloud-based services, entrants in the 2018 i2i DataHack4FI innovation competition will more easily be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by new data, and develop solutions that bridge the gap with the informal economies across Africa,” said Nkosi Ncube, Head of i2i’s Application Lab.
· At the i2idatahack competitions in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Rwanda, Liquid Telecom experts will be on-hand to advise entrants on how to make best use of Liquid Telecom products and services to develop and host their products. Free credits for Microsoft Azure will also be made available to participating teams.
· Go Cloud is a programme by Liquid Telecom and supported by Microsoft that offers connectivity and cloud-based services tailored to start-ups at different gestation stages, enabling them to grow and scale. The project is currently being launched across Africa.
· Liquid Telecom also recently announced that it is providing free internet to Nairobi Garage’s newly opened Entrepreneurship Centre along Ngong Road in Nairobi, supporting up to 300 co-workers with free high-speed fibre internet connectivity of 150Mbps.