Clean water for Africa: E-Maji tackles one of Africa's most pressing issuesIn Cape Town, nine teams pitched their newly formed startup ideas at the AfricaCom masterclass stage in front of a judging panel of industry experts and an audience of ICT enthusiasts and executives from around the world. The 20 person Jury included leading business representatives such as Emilian Popa, CEO at Groupon South Africa.
Winning on the day was team E-Maji which pitched their smart water quality testing unit. It measures water quality at a drinking water source in real time. If a contamination is detected, the system then uses a built-in GPRS transmitter to send GPS coordinates of the contaminated water source to authorities to facilitate a speedy reaction, but not before the unit shuts down water supply using an electronic water valve. The team designed the unit to be used with Africa’s 700 000 boreholes which have proven very complicated and difficult for authorities to maintain and monitor.Speaking on the sidelines of the AfricaCom event, co-founder Taf Makura narrated how the team came up with their innovation: "When we got on the bus we had a very clear and simple objective, we were going to use technology to solve a problem without focusing on the technology itself. We were aware of how technological requirements of any kind can quickly get in the way of mass adoption in Africa. Our technology had to work in the background without placing any technical requirements on the people it was meant to help.”
His partner Seida Gharsallah, co-founder of E-Maji and a banker of the year with ING Netherlands, added: “We have every intention of exploring the feasibility of this project!”
This year's AMPION Southern Africa startups are:
- M.E.M. (Mens et Manus): online platform allowing entrepreneurs in rural areas to obtain or develop knowledge on product design and development of hardware and software consumer products via a feature phone
- Keetla: provides a platform for schools, parents, teachers and students to be efficiently involved in the education process
- Road Rules: mobile app to study for ones driver's license on mobile devices
- Shining Homes: a service allowing clients to book cleaners for their homes in a simple and convenient way
- Mlimi: platform connecting the agriculture ecosystem allowing for access to inputs, technical information, markets, funding, and a community of like minded stakeholders
- Da-mark.com: bridges the gap between the informal and the formal sector in Africa
- My Time for Change: easy to use, transparent web platform improving citizen engagement by connecting organisations in need and potential volunteers
- SchoolitUp: Working on making education material ( books, uniforms etc.) accessible to everyone by providing an online platform linking both parties
- E-Maji: see above
AMPIONeer Netia A. McCray, Founder and Executive Director of Mbadika, wrote a daily recap during the 3500km trip from Harare to Cape Town on the AMPION blog. Her impressions on the journey can be read on ampionblog.tumblr.com. The unique experience, she concludes, had everyone on the edge of their seat:"I feel not one AMPIONeer would disagree with the statement that our journey was literally a life-changing experience." Julie Rey, Conference Director of AfricaCom, said of the partnership with Ampion: "There is a great amount of creativity and entrepreneurship in Africa but ideas are not enough without financial backing and business acumen. That is why we started the Entrepreneurs Incubator Hub at AfricaCom and we partner with organisations such as Ampion, who support entrepreneurs and enable the exchange of information and contacts. We look forward to hearing of future successes of Ampion hackathon participants."
About the AMPION Venture BusAMPION is the leading pan-African entrepreneurship initiative to enable young Africans to start ICT companies, often creating considerable social impact. AMPION organizes 5 day Venture Bus programs accompanied by international mentors and followed by an extensive incubation program. The Venture Bus journeys are regularly covered by media such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera & Bloomberg TV and brought some of Africa’s most innovative companies to life.