In an event attended by tech leaders in Nairobi today, Google announced the five winners of the Africa connected competition that got the winners walking away with $25,000 (Kshs 2.1million) and will also have the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period to further their online business success.
The competition was launched in August 2013 calling entrepreneurs, creatives , innovators and web-lovers to share stories of how the web has transformed their lives and work which had 2,200 individuals contest all from 35 countries.
Among winners is Sitawa Wafula, a Kenyan who has used Google Blogger to establish an award winning blog on mental health in East Africa. “I feel humbled and honourned that mental health and epilepsy- which are considered taboo topics- have been put on the same platform as some very innovative projects.
Other winners include; Eunice Namirembe a Ugandan who runs the Medical Concierge Group which helps the states citizens access quality healthcare and information. Eseoghene Odiete (Nigeria) who learnt how to create handbags using Google Search and YouTube, Eric Obuh also a Nigerian a former dump site scavenger who has recorded songs and shares them on YouTube and finally Christopher Panford (Ghana) who runs a transport company and uses Google Maps to constantly monitor the location of the vehicles.
“There are over 1 billion people living in Sub-Saharan Africa and currently 16% of them are online. With Africa Connected, we wanted to celebrate how the web is changing lives in Africa, and show how it is contributing to the socio-economic development of the continent. Selecting the shortlist was no easy task; each winner shares a unique perspective of how they have used the internet to solve a problem, earn a living, or create opportunities, not just for themselves, but also for others around them,” said Affiong Osuchukwu, Google Lead for the Africa Connected initiative.