By Ifeoma Asika
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced the 100 finalists from the #AfricaVsVirus Challenge ideathon to find solutions to challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.
Some 25,000 participants from across Africa and beyond, joined the online platform to pitch their ideas for innovative solutions to the health and economic challenges caused by the virus. Participants in the 72-hour ideathon curated 750 solutions, from which an expert panel selected the Top 100 Solutions.
“The quality of ideas and the level of engagement from participants during the online challenge showcases that innovation and a passion to find solutions are among Africa’s greatest resources,” said the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Jennifer Blanke. “We’re looking forward to the next phase of the #AfricaVsVirus competition that will aim to boost the viability of the top solutions.”
The solutions were focused on specific thematic areas relevant to the African context, such as public health and epidemiology, vulnerable populations, businesses & economy, community, education, entertainment, government support, environment and energy and food security.
More than 4,000 moderators and mentors facilitated and supported the teams during the ideathon, making it one of the largest online brainstorming events ever conducted on the continent to seek out African solutions to African challenges.
Judges evaluated submissions based on several criteria, including the relevance of solutions, the implementation plan, and the impact and quality of the team. The experts included: Global Managing Partner Emeritus at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Yana Watson, Creative Food Entrepreneur and Investor at Agrolay Ventures, Ada Osakwe and Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society at the African Development Bank Group, Vanessa M. Moungar.
Through the African Development Bank’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab Platform, the Bank will now act as an enabler to match the most relevant solutions to the initiative’s 140+ partners.
The Bank will award the 20 best solutions out of the Top 100 Solutions finalists, further technical assistance. In addition, the 20 winners will be eligible to receive, from a pool of in-kind prizes, worth more than US$1 million in awards, to be announced in September.
The #AfricaVsVirus challenge is part of the Bank’s continent-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank has launched a US$10 billion Covid Response Facility to help countries strengthen their health and social protection systems as well as build economic resilience to sustain jobs and livelihoods.
The primary objective of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy is to harness the innovation, creativity and energy of Africa’s youth to solve Africa’s challenges. The AfricaVsVirus Challenge is implemented by the Bank strategy Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab as well as the Youth Entrepreneurship & Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund working together with implementing partners Seedstars and development consultants Luvent Consulting.