Thank you to all those who applied to the First Edition of the Africa50 Innovation Challenge!


The Africa50 Innovation Challenge is an initiative of Africa50, the pan-African investment platform. The first edition of the Challenge called for solutions to improve last-mile connectivity to increase access to reliable and affordable internet in Africa. A worldwide search over four months yielded 673 proposals, with over 80% from Africa. Africa50 will invest in and implement the winning solutions, first in Rwanda, and then elsewhere on the continent.

The challenge


Last Mile Internet Connectivity

The Challenge Proposition

“Significantly increase access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in under-served areas in Africa”

Pilot Country


Africa50 is looking for the most innovative infrastructure and tech solutions which enable people to connect to the internet in their daily lives, through fixed and mobile devices

Computer Agro

Why Last Mile Connectivity?

Recent World Bank studies show that an additional 10% Internet penetration can lift GDP by 1-4% in developing countries and that African firms using the Internet are nearly four times as productive per employee as those that do not.

Inclusive Growth

Internet connectivity has a strong multiplier effect on economies as it drives increased exposure to information, innovation, and knowledge, at reduced costs. It enables access to education, health and other social services, as well as employment and job creation opportunities. Internet connectivity also enables small businesses to access international markets and allows new industries to spring up.

Economic Transformation

Africa is at a crossroads with a range of development needs. Providing the strongest foundation for advanced, inclusive growth, last mile connectivity will enable the continent to leapfrog traditional solutions and unlock the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.



Rwanda has made significant efforts to foster the development of the ICT sector, including creating an enabling policy and legal framework and investment in a national high-speed fibre-optic backbone that spans across the country.

Rwanda's Vision 2020 development program aims to attract technology companies from Africa and all over the world to create an innovation ecosystem and knowledge-based economy with pan-African impact.


Financial Reward

Cash prize and/or potential project development funding

Investor Connections

Access to B2B matching services to connect with new partners

Deal Opportunities

Integrate Africa50’s pipeline of bankable projects

Exposure and Influence

Opportunity to pitch your solution at AfricaCom and Transform Africa, the largest tech events in Africa

Technical Support

Technical support to improve your project’s investment readiness

Pan-African Footprint

Opportunity to scale your solution to Africa50’s shareholder countries
(27 at present)

Challenge timeline


14 May 2019

Challenge Launch at Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda

31 January 2020

Application Deadline

February-May 2020


June 2020

Finalists will be announced during our Webinar

November 2020

Winners will be announced at AfricaCom 2020

Innovators, engineers, entrepreneurs, ICT experts, individuals and organizations worldwide, were invited to submit their workable solutions for implementation.

Innovations that meet the following criteria will be considered:

• Solutions at pilot and/or post-revenue stage

• Solutions must meet worldwide environmental, social and governance standards.

• Combinations of solutions are encouraged, including technological and deployment models, particularly those that work systemically and unlock a number of barriers to the challenges of last mile connectivity.

• Solutions may include physical infrastructure such as solar powered mobile masts and platforms, TV white-space technology, drones and local micro-nets, as well as innovative rural network deployment models.

• Novel ways of using existing technology and infrastructure, software or social engagement.

• Solutions to related issues such as energy access, supporting uptake and device affordability and usability are also encouraged.

• Solutions that have applicability in locations other than Rwanda are allowed. However, for this competition the solutions will be piloted in Rwanda.

If an entity is considered for potential funding, it should be willing to implement its solution and become a partner in the project that would be piloted in Rwanda.

The winning criteria

An Expert Committee comprised of academic, industry, public policy and finance professionals will assess the extent to which participants meet the following technical and business parameters:


Solution is able to address the problem with new/original ideas and


Solution is able to address the problem for a large number of users at relatively low cost per new user. It can be expanded nationally and internationally.


Solution is economically viable such that industry players and consumers can reasonably access the solution and the cost barrier is not high.


Solution is not only economically viable but also creates shared value for local communities and resolves or at least prevents further disruption of the environment.

Ready to be deployed

Throughout Rwanda within 12 months, meaning that field trials and relevant approvals have been gained, or can be obtained within the timescale.


Solution is built in such a way that its constituent parts can function on their own or be assembled in different ways in order to meet diverse user needs. It can be plugged into various stages of the internet-connectivity value chain.



Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to Africa’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.

Africa50’s investor base is currently composed of 28 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), and Bank Al-Maghrib, with over $876 million in committed capital.

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Applications open from 14 May to 31 January 2020