By Prince Osuagwu (in Bangkok, Thailand)
A young Nigerian computer science graduate, Oscar Ekponimo, is among those flying Nigeria’s flag here in Bangkok Thailand, hosts of this year’s International Telecommunications Union, ITU Telecom World Conference.
Ekponimo is among the rare ten youths across the world selected by ITU to be honoured for innovations in technology. He got himself into this league, by developing a web and mobile application tagged SalvageHub, which reduces food waste and redistributes salvaged products to needy people. Retailers also use Ekponimo’s platform to track near expiry food products in stock, trigger notification on the hub and schedule pickups of donated food products.
ITU developed Young Innovators Programme as an integral part of Telecom World events and designed it to work with promising start-ups run by young people from all over the world who are using technological innovation to improve the social reality of their communities.
Each year, the Young Innovators Competition invites new start-ups and concepts to compete for one of the ten prestigious places in the programme. Chosen by a committee of world-class experts from public, private and academic sectors, the ten winners join the ITU Telecom World event for a four-day accelerator programme of pitching sessions, hands-on workshops and mentoring and also the chance to win up to USD 10 000 in funding. That was how Ekponimo emerged when his SalvageHub was selected.
Now the programme is not just an annual competition, its turning into a community. For instance, the organisers have drawn the winners of the 2012 competition to join this year’s winners in Bangkok to report back on the development of their projects after a year of mentoring and to offer the benefits of their experiences as peer-mentors to the class of 2013.