Regional start-ups that will participate in the DataHack4FI innovation competition will access free high-speed internet and cloud-based services, Liquid Telecom, a pan-African telecoms group and subsidiary of Econet Global, said in a statement.
Now in its second year, the DataHack for Financial Inclusion (DataHack4FI) competition, an initiative by insight2impact (i2i), brings together some of the brightest and innovative minds from across the continent to harness the power of data science to develop new evidence-based solutions to improve financial inclusion.
The statement said the six-phase competition targets six African countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia, where start-ups undergo mentorship and training before presenting their data-driven solutions to a panel of judges.
The successful start-ups will pitch their projects during the final competition to be held in Rwanda in May next year, where they will compete for seed funding from global investors, said Ben Roberts, the Liquid Telecom Group chief technical officer.
“Africa’s future is in data science, which will enable a new generation of African entrepreneurs to unlock the potential of exponential volumes of data generated by mobile devices,” said Roberts. “We are delighted to be supporting i2i DataHack4FI by providing start-ups with access to critical infrastructure that will help generate home-grown products and services that can create new business opportunities and skills as well as expose African talent to the world.”
The firm will also be providing the contestants with access to a wide range of cloud-based products and services as part of Go Cloud; a new programme launched by the firm and supported by Microsoft and aimed at raising awareness, adoption and usage of Azure Cloud across Africa. The entrants will be able to leverage the Microsoft Azure platform to access critical development tools that can be used for data science driven applications and hosting.
The contest targets fintechs and tech innovators, who will be paired with a data science fellow to develop data-driven solutions to delivering financial services to emerging consumer segments in Africa. Themes of focus include data and informal economic activity, data and identify, and data and youth. Registration for the competition in Rwanda will open in November at: http://www.datahack4fi.org. The contest will be launched in December.
Platform to attract seed capital for start-ups
With support from Liquid Telecom, the 2018 i2i DataHack4FI innovation competition aims to attract a greater level of investment in start-ups, while collaborating further with Africa’s financial service providers and the fintech community, according to Nkosi Ncube, the head of i2i’s Application Lab.
Ncube said one of the major challenges facing start-ups in Africa today is access to the critical IT infrastructure needed to support, grow and nurture their ideas. “With Liquid Telecom’s high speed connectivity and cloud-based services, the entrants in the 2018 competition will be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by new data, and develop solutions that bridge the gap with the informal economies across the continent.”