Two Nigerians, Ikechukwu Umezurumba and Dominic Nwaogu, are among the 20 winners of the 2020 International Telecommunication Union’s Innovation Challenge.
A statement from the union said they were honoured at the 2020 edition of the ITU Global Innovation Forum held virtually.
The statement titled ‘ITU 2020 Global Innovation Forum highlights the importance of entrepreneurship-driven innovation in the context of a global pandemic’ said seven winning projects from the winners were pitched to a global audience of experts.
It stated that 12 women and eight men received awards across three challenge categories: the digital change-maker, ecosystem best practice, and women in tech.
Tafadzwa Chikwereti (Zimbabwe), Carlos Reyes (United States), Mojca Rehar (France), Ikechukwu Umezurumba (Nigeria), James Gachara Kiruri (Kenya), and Thomas Müller (South Africa) won the digital change-maker challenge category.
In the category of the ecosystem best practice challenge, the following contenders won: Dominic Nwaogu (Nigeria), Diana Artiom (Moldova), Nahel Amirah (Egypt), Ivana Kostic (Serbia), Galina Dremova (Russia), Wilda Romadona (Indonesia), Laila Al Hadhrami (Oman), Zainab Khan (Pakistan), and Franca Vinci (Italy).
The winners of the women in tech challenge category are: Nindya Pasaribu (Indonesia), Calister Simba (Tanzania), Achia Nila (Bangladesh), Rani Mutiarawati (Indonesia), and Nabuyuni Sankan (Kenya).
Speaking at the forum, the ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, noted that supporting entrepreneurship-driven innovation had never been more important as innovation pushes the boundaries of what was possible.
He said, “It creates jobs, economic growth, and new ways to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. ICT innovators need access to the resources to take their ideas to market and access to a well-developed broadband infrastructure.”
The telecoms union noted that while digital technologies had the potential to change lives and significantly accelerate sustainable development, many communities lacked access to an enabling environment.
This, according to the ITU, is because key stakeholders often fail to understand, develop and renew the competitive practices that fuel digital transformation.
The union stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had created additional challenges for countries’ transition to a digital economy by negatively affecting socio-economic conditions worldwide.
The Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, said, “Entrepreneurship-driven innovation has been a rising priority for ITU stakeholders since the 2014 World Telecommunication Development Conference in Dubai.
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“This forum enabled participants to share insights and discover new practices. By bringing diverse stakeholders to connect with change-makers for more action-oriented outcomes, we hope that symbiotic relationships will develop to ensure sustainable and competitive digital ecosystems that unlock communities’ potential.”
During the event, about 175 experts in innovation, entrepreneurship and technology discussed how to accelerate digital transformation in their communities, mainstream entrepreneurship and find resources required for digital innovation, and bring resource, problem and solution owners together.
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