Africa50, a pan-African investment platform has announced it is set to pilot a high-speed broadband concept to homes and SMEs in low income and semi-rural areas in Rwanda following an initiative aimed at sourcing innovative solutions, to help increase access to reliable and affordable internet connectivity in under-served areas across Africa.
Recall, according to the financier early this month, announced winners of the first edition of its Innovation Challenge, following the sourcing innovative solutions, with an aim to help increase access to reliable and affordable internet connectivity.
Poa! Internet, a Kenya-based Internet Services Provider providing wireless high-speed broadband to homes and SMEs in low income and semi-rural areas, emerged as the winner of the innovation challenge.
Poa will receive $100,000 dollars as prize money and will be added to Africa50’s investment pipeline.
Poa will be considered for a potential investment, subject to Africa50’s due diligence process and Poa’s fit with Africa50’s investment criteria.
If an investment is approved, Africa50 will seek to launch a pilot program in Rwanda to test the solution’s business model in a rural context and demonstrate its viability to be scaled across the continent.
The project will then be rolled-out in Rwanda as the pilot country, with the intention to scale up to other African countries.
Rwanda-based ARED Group also recieved a Special Recognition Award for its solution, Shiriki Hub and will receive a $50,000 cash prize for its efforts to increase the adoption of internet connectivity in rural areas, through the provision of digital services, tailored to the needs of local communities.
It is a solar-powered kiosk which has a mobile router that provides connectivity and allows offline functionality.
Speaking, the Special Advisor to Africa50 CEO, Carole Wainaina said; “When we initiated the Innovation Challenge in 2019, we were aware of the importance of ICT as a driver of sustainable development in Africa. We believe that solving the continent’s key infrastructure development challenges provides tremendous investment opportunities and it requires new kinds of innovative collaborative approaches that leverage technology”.
The Africa50 Innovation Challenge was launched in 2019 after a global sourcing campaign, attracting 673 solutions, of which 80% were from Africa. The solutions were assessed on their innovativeness, scalability, modularity, sustainability, and readiness. After a thorough assessment process involving 33 experts and technical advisors, Poa! Internet and Shiriki Hub were selected among seven finalists who were announced in July 2020.
Africa50 prioritizes investment in medium-to large scale projects in the power, transport, ICT and midstream gas sectors, providing appropriate risk-adjusted return to investors, while delivering development impact.