In an interview with Ventures Africa, Emeka Okafor, an individual who has had his eye on Africa’s innovative space, explained that innovation exists around us, but we keep looking at the wrong set of things. “I think if we begin to examine our environments locally, regionally, country-wide, continent-wide – and this is something I’ve been doing for a while now – we’ll see innovation in places we least expect, but it was always there,” he said.
Nigeria’s image in the global spotlight can be considered ‘grossly unattractive,’ with many issues plaguing the country such as unemployment, poverty, inequality, illiteracy, corruption, under development and still being referred to as the world’s most populous black nation. But, the combined efforts of Chijioke Ezegbo and Obi Brown seem to be leveraging on the rapid internet proliferation in Africa, in an attempt to right the long-existing wrongs haunting the Nigerian system.
The ideas and innovation of both individuals have been lauded across the continent and are also receiving global accolades from reputable institutions. This week, Etisalat, Nigeria’s leading innovative and fastest growing telecommunications operator, crowned both of them winners of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Innovation Competition in both the Innovative Product and Idea categories. They were presented with cheques of N5m and N2m for winning in the Most Innovative Product/Service category and the Most Innovative Idea category. In addition to their cash prizes, they were also rewarded with a publicity campaign and mentoring session at the EDC Pan Atlantic University.
The winning product in the Most Innovative Product category, Study Lab Math, is a repository of over 1300+ videos solving math problems in over 49 topics in the NERDC curriculum for senior secondary school Math. The videos are solved by a team of Math teachers led by a WAEC Chief Examiner.
Dedicated Traffic Mapping Device (DTMD) which emerged the winning idea in the Most Innovative Idea category is a GPRS-enabled traffic navigation device with a voice over interface which is fixed onto a vehicle’s windshield to help users navigate their way through traffic by accessing real-time traffic data and suggesting shorter or alternative routes.
Chijioke noted that the Dedicated Traffic Mapping Device (DTMD) was developed out of the need to help road users achieve more by managing traffic navigation through busy cities and other urban areas with heavy vehicular movement.
Explaining why Etisalat decided to embark on rewarding excellence innovation in Nigeria, the Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, said the Prize for Innovation initiative which aims at discovering and growing young Nigerians with innovative products, ideas and solutions using mobile broadband technology, reflects the company’s commitment to nurturing talent and promoting creativity that will have invaluable impacts on individuals and organizations.
“As a company, innovation is at the core of our business; it is the strength on which we thrive. The world is driven by innovation and Nigeria needs innovators whose ideas and products can drive development and help people live as they should. We at Etisalat are glad to provide a platform to mobilize the nation’s teeming crop of young and undiscovered innovators to impact all areas of the society,” he said.
The Etisalat CEO also called on those with innovative ideas to give themselves the opportunity offered by the initiative to contribute to the development of the society, adding “it is not about how many ideas you have, but how many you make happen that matters.”
The Etisalat Prize for Innovation has succeeded in rewarding innovation since its inception in 2012. It has given its winners the opportunity to showcase and develop their ideas as well as promote innovation and creativity in Nigeria and create products/services and ideas that will greatly impact the lives of Nigerians.