Monday, May 14, 2012

$1 Million African News Innovation Challenge

Africa’s first major contest designed to promote the development of digital media products and innovations is now accepting applications.

African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC) will provide grants from $12,500 to $100,000 for the best projects aimed at strengthening and transforming African news media. The contest is modeled on the highly successful Knight News Challenge in the United States. Grantees will also receive technical advice, startup support and one-on-one mentoring from the world’s top media experts.

Of particular interest are proposals that improve data-based investigative journalism, audience engagement, mobile news distribution, data visualization, new revenue models and workflow systems.

The African Media Initiative (AMI), Africa’s largest association of media owners and operators, announced the contest last November as part of a pan-African initiative to spur digital experimentation and technology-driven projects and startups.

“African media have a tremendous opportunity to leapfrog the business disruption faced by media in Europe and the U.S.,” says AMI chief executive Amadou Mahtar Ba. “The growing reach of mobile networks and improving Internet access is beginning to reshape the media landscape in Africa. We believe this competition will help African news organizations stay ahead of the curve.”

Contest partners include Omidyar Network, Google, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the U.S. State Department, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

“Omidyar Network is delighted to be supporting the African News Innovation Challenge,” said Stephen King, partner at Omidyar Network. “Across the continent we are seeing innovative ways in which technology is providing people with greater access to information. This challenge is a great opportunity for journalists, entrepreneurs and technologists to join forces and help enable the African media to hold their leaders to account.”

Digital strategist Justin Arenstein is managing the initiative as part of his work with the AMI and International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C.


Entries must be submitted to the ANIC website by midnight (Central African Time) on July 10, 2012.


Proposals may be submitted by news pioneers from anywhere in the world, but entries must have an African media partner who will help develop and test the innovation. Projects that are designed for Africa will stand a better chance of receiving support.


ANIC is seeking new ways to create, discuss and share news and make quality journalism sustainable. This could include new revenue or production models, new ways to gather, produce or distribute news. Ideas that can be scaled up across the continent or replicated elsewhere are of particular interest. Preference will be given to ideas that solve bottlenecks facing Africa’s media.


Winning projects will be selected by an ANIC panel of judges, following public voting and a review by an international jury.

About ICFJ

The International Center for Journalists is a non-profit organization that advances quality journalism worldwide. Its programs combine the best professional standards with the latest digital innovations. ICFJ believes that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition.

About AMI

The African Media Initiative is the continent’s largest umbrella association of African media owners, senior executives and other industry stakeholders. AMI’s mandate is to serve as a catalyst for strengthening African media by building the tools, knowledge resources and technical capacity for African media to play an effective public interest role in their societies. This mandate includes assisting with the development of professional standards, financial sustainability, technological adaptability and civic engagement.

About Google Inc.

Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top Web property in all major global markets. Google's mission in Africa is to make the Internet an integral part of every day life in Africa, by increasing its relevance and usefulness, eliminating access barriers for potential users, and developing products that are meaningful for countries in the region. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more information, visit, see our Africa Blog, or follow us on Twitter

About Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $500 million to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including financial inclusion, entrepreneurship, property rights, consumer Internet, mobile and government transparency. To learn more, visit

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Malawi Posts Corporation's Fast Cash Money Transfer

I never thought that i will set my foot in a post office again! I had altogether given up the idea of writing letters with the advent of new technologies. However the past three months has seen me going to various post offices over 10 times. All these times i was there to send or receive money through the Fast Cash Money Transfer.

Sending and receiving money has never been this easier! This service has won the hearts of many Malawians especially from the rural areas and students who cannot afford the luxuries of gracing the commercial banks. Post offices are strategically located in all the districts of Malawi and are serving the rural folks efficiently.

Fast Cash Money Transfer is an initiative of Cash For Africa and is operating in many African countries. As an agent, Malawi Posts Corporation is doing its best to make this service successful despite some challenges faced.


Network - This is one biggest challenge that Fast Cash is facing. Most of countries post offices are deep in remote areas where maintaining a network is a very daunting task. Since the service involves communication through computers over a network, it some times slows down the process of sending or receiving money.

Electricity blackouts - This is a song everyone in Malawi knows by now. Without electricity no transaction takes place. This becomes worse if the blackouts are prolonged.

No Money - There as been situations where the destination post office has no enough money to pay the receiver. Since the money sent is no physically transfered to the receiving post office, it is believed that the post offices income is used to give the receiver. In some rural areas, people had to wait for days to get the amount sent to them. I had a case when my mother was sent back because the post office did not have enough money to give her. She had to come again several times. This is mostly because the post office is not making enough money from various sales.

Congestion - Most of the people who are using this service in urban places are using it as an alternative to the congested banks and sending to their relatives who have no bank accounts. However as a lot of people discover the efficiency of this service, more and more people are using it thereby crowding the once dormant post offices.

Even though the Fast Cash Money Transfer is transforming the outlook and the image of the Malawi Posts Corporation, there is need to do more to win back the faith of many Malawians. In these technology times we cannot afford to post a letter to Blantyre and wait for a week!

Young Farmers Idea Contest - win $5,000

Through the Young Farmers Idea Contest, the African diaspora and volunteers alike are invited to share their ideas on new ways to engage youths in sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 18 through educational projects, community-building initiatives, and social programs, all centered around agriculture and farming.

We want to hear what you have to say.

At Africa Rural Connect, we believe that collaboration is the key to developing the best ideas for Africa. Add your experience and expertise to the insights of thousands of professionals, experts, and like minded individuals and organizations the world. Together we can build and enhance project plans that could have a real-world impact in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Young Farmers Contest Selection Criteria

The top 10 ideas from endorsements will go to the Leaderboard above and will be sent to a panel of judges who will evaluate the top ideas identifying those they feel are the most original, creative, practical, scalable and likely to be successfully implemented.

Ideas submitted to the Young Farmers Idea Contest can run the gamut from improving youth agricultural education and training, to increasing youths’ access to finances and land, to supporting youth farming organization. You may designate your idea under standard Africa Rural Connect themes such as water resources, agribusiness, post-harvest losses/storage, transportation and infrastructure, and communication methods.

When is the Young Farmers Contest?

The current Young Farmers Idea Contest runs from April 15 - May 31, 2012.

Young Farmers Contest Prizes

Qualified contestants will be eligible to win first, second and third place. The first place winner receives a cash prize of $5,000 and if the winner is based in the U.S. they will also win roundtrip airfare and lodging to the NPCA annual gathering in Minneapolis June 29 -July 1, 2012; the second place winner receives a cash prize of $2,500; and the third place winner receives a cash prize of $1,000.

How do I get involved in idea generation?

Post your idea. Africa Rural Connect is an interactive network; you can participate in a number of ways. If you have an idea for a project plan in rural Africa- post it! Members of the Africa Rural Connect community will support your plan by offering their expertise, pledging resources, and adding visibility of your project through endorsements.

For more information and how you can endorse other people's ideas visit Africa Rural Connect's website.

Friday, May 4, 2012


This is your opportunity to shine a global ICT spotlight on your innovative ideas and digital creativity. Enter the Young Innovators Competition at ITU Telecom World 2012 to show the world how your fresh thinking and talent for technology can provide real-world solutions to real-world problems and change the future for the better. Showcase your innovation on a truly international stage and win the chance to access development workshops, industry expertise and the unparalleled networking potential of World 2012.

Are you 18-25 years old?
Do you have an innovative ICT-based concept or project?
Are you in need of resources to take the next step?
Are you a social entrepreneur?

If your answer is yes to these questions, this could be just the competition for you. Any solution using innovative ICT to support development, from concepts to mature projects can compete to win!

Finalists will be invited to join us at ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai, where they will receive the following:

- Up to CHF 10,000 in prize money: great concepts can win up to CHF 5,000; innovative projects can win up to CHF 10,000.

- Industry mentorship: benefit from intensive one-on-one sessions with high level industry mentors, plus their ongoing support over a one-year development period.

- Hands-on Workshop: training sessions focusing on developing entrepreneurial skills.

- Networking: Opportunities to build relationships with top ICT names from industry, governments, academia and peers.

- Showcase at the InnovatorSpace: demo your submission to our influential audience.

Enter the young innovators competition today! Click here to submit your application. Use the documents on the right hand side of this page to help prepare your application. Should you require any further information in the meantime, please contact us at: