BY EMEKA AGINAM
No fewer than 20 innovative, entrepreneurial web adopters from across sub-Saharan Africa have scaled through to the semi-finals of Google’s Africa Connected competition.
The 20 semi-finalists were selected from initial entries to take part in an interview and to produce a short promotional video.
A judging panel, made up of Googlers and external judges, will now determine the 10 finalists. The 5 winners, in whose lives the web and Google have played a pivotal role, will then be selected by the online voting public. The winners will be announced on 1st April at an event in Nairobi, Kenya.
Out of the 20 innovators that made the semi=finalists list, three Nigerians including Eric Obuh, a social crusader, Eseoghene Odiete, a fashion designer, Mayowa Adegbile, a philanthropist were shortlisted.
It would be recalled that the competition was launched in August last year with a call on entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and web-lovers to share their stories of how the web has transformed their lives and work.
Accordingly, the semi-finalists were selected from over 2,200 entries from 35 countries.
Five successful winners will win $25,000 each in addition to having the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period to further their online business success.
The competition categories included Education; Entertainment/Arts/Sports; Technology; Community and NGOs; and Small Businesses.
“We received over 2,200 entries from a diverse set of 35 countries across the continent, ranging from Mali to Uganda to Namibia. Each of them demonstrated how people are using the web and technology to overcome challenges, do extraordinary things, and be successful, not only for themselves but also for others in their communities.
“ The projects include everything from using YouTube to learn about eco-friendly building techniques, to an award-winning blog on mental health. Selecting the 20 semi-finalists was tough, but we were really impressed with their initiatives, and wish them the best in the next round,” Affiong Osuchukwu, Google Lead for the Africa Connected initiative, said.
For Juliet Ehimuan, Country Manager, Google Nigeria, “We’re excited to see good Nigerian representation, as we have 3 out of 20, among the semifinalists. We see the stories of these three lives of Eric Obuh a.k.a. Vocal Slender, Eseoghene Odiete, and Mayowa Adegbile, as representative of the resilient nature of Nigerians to achieve their dreams. We can only wish them well in the competition.”