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ITU – Hooza

Hooza Media in 8 companies with technological innovations that bring Solutions in E-Health

Hooza Media and other two Rwandan tech companies emerge in top 8 companies that have been able to reach the final stage of ITU Virtual Digital World 2020 SME Awards competition, E-Health Category, whose winner is Appy Saude from Angola.

Although these Rwandan companies have not been able to win prizes, they have been able to reach the finals beating hundreds of companies who participates in the competition.

Hooza Media whose Mobile Governance solution has shown potential in some African countries including Rwanda was in the same category with other Rwandan companies namely Higaneza Ltd Rwanda and Karisimbi Technology Solutions.

Normally ITU, the Geneva based UN organization organize the SME pitching and Award every year.

This year Hooza Media pitched its Mobile Governance solution for the last mile communities.

It enables vulnerable communities to access information via mobile phones without the need of internet.

The solutions push free short voice messages and allows users to reply with their own voice.

It has been decisive in the fight against pandemics such as Ebola and Covid-19.

Today the solution is helping teenagers to access Sexual Reproductive Health counselling services and also their parents can learn more on Gender Based violence and women rights.

The past 9 months has seen a surge in teenage pregnancy, a direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Hooza Media CEO Mr. Victor Nkindi, the solution shall help to reduce teenage pregnancy cases, which, under covid-19 lockdown (from March to June 2020) reached 13,257 across the country.

On this year’s ITU final Competition, Mr Nkindi said “Although we didn’t manage to win this year ITU Competition in E-Health category, we hope for the best in future as Mobile Industry and the need for E-Health services are increasing day by day.”

The Winners of 6th edition of International Telecommunications Union SME AWARD held online for the first time will get UN recognition, International visibility as well as an invitation to the Oct. 2021 ITU summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

This year, ITU selected winners in 4 categories namely Connectivity, Digital Finance, Smart Cities, E-health.

Each category has saw one winner and apart from Appy Saude that beats competitors in E-Health, others are Astrome Technologies Private Limited from India that won Connectivity Category, BusMap Viet Nam, winner in Smart Cities category and OKO Finance from Israel, winner of Digital Finance Category.

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Ericsson discusses accelerating Africa’s digital future at AfricaCom 2020

  • Ericsson experts to highlight the role of connectivity in powering Africa’s digital future
  • Focus on improving connectivity and bridging the digital divide

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) will discussits digital transformation and innovation solutions to propel Africa towards the future at AfricaCom, part of Africa Tech Festival, a virtual event taking place from November 9 to 12, 2020.

At the event, Ericsson willfocus on the role of connectivity in powering Africa’s digital future and in achieving a positive impact on people’s lives. As part of its keynotes and speaker sessions,Ericsson will cover topics such as how to realize the opportunities of a digitalized Africa, how smarter networks will accelerate Africa’s digital agenda, the progress and prospects of 5G in Africa, and howArtificial Intelligence (AI) and automation creates value across the lifecycle of network operations.

Ericsson will also host a roundtable about bridging the digital divide by focusing on connectivity for schools and learners. The Giga initiative is a UNICEF and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) initiative to connect every school, which identifies internet access for education as a key enabler for today’s youth. 

The unprecedented events of 2020 have brought into focus the critical role that digital infrastructure plays in the functioning of almost every aspect of contemporary society. Africa is home to over a billion people and the population is expected to grow in the coming years. It is also a continent with the most growing economies. ICT is essential for Africa’s development and adequate ICT service deployment and digital connectivity will play a crucial role in achieving economic sustainability in the continent.

Ericsson is excited to participate at this year’s AfricaCom to continue setting #AfricaInMotion. Register here for your free pass to join Ericsson’s sessions and roundtable:

Follow our hashtag #AfricaInMotion for live updates from the event.


Enhancing citizen engagement among rural populations in Rwanda with a mobile solution

ITU News recently caught up with Victor Nkindi, the founder of the Rwanda-based startup, Hooza, which provides a 2-way mobile audio channel to help African governments reach out to a maximum number of citizens.

This technology was used during the 2017 Rwandan presidential elections, helping the National Electoral Commission to strengthen its awareness campaign for civic education. We asked Mr Nkindi a few questions about Hooza, how it helps improve lives and how tech entrepreneurship can flourish in emerging markets.

1. What challenge does your two-way audio channel aim to address?

Our mobile audio solution addresses the urgent need for African institutions to strengthen their communications by ensuring that a majority of individuals are reachable and can participate in the sustainable development of their community, when indeed, 88% of our population does not have access to the internet and 32% is not literate.

2. What has it helped to achieve in Rwanda?

In Rwanda, our solution helped communities to learn about their institutions and gave them a unique platform to participate in political debates by sharing their remarks and recommendations through a mobile audio channel.

The digital media provides real-time data from the concerned population. Institutions can use this data to solve the community’s problems.

For example, in 2017 we partnered with the Rwanda National Electoral Commission to drive a 2 month awareness campaign on civic education using short audio messages in Kinyarwanda (one of the official languages in Rwanda).

The campaign saw more than 400,000 citizens responding everyday with their concerns and inquiries in order to check their names on voting lists, the location of the voting bureau, what they do in case they lose their ID, details on the candidates’ names and backgrounds, or at what age they can vote. The Electoral Commission was able to collect their feedback in real time and immediately address their particular problems, requests or situations.

The solution helped to increase citizen engagement and enhance government responsiveness to their needs.

3. What sparked your interest in this problem and finding the solution?

As a media professional with over 12 years of experience in broadcast media, I am aware of the gap created by the digital revolution when it comes to delivering information to communities:

“Those not connected to the internet do not receive real-time information, and have less access to information via mainstream media, specifically in rural areas.” — Victor Nkindi

So I wanted to create a simple 2 way audio channel accessible through feature phones, with no need for the internet. The solution would give 80% of our populations in Rwanda and the Central African region access to information, beyond the barrier of internet access or illiteracy.

4. What can governments in emerging markets do to support innovation and entrepreneurship?

I am from Rwanda, a country that has decided to switch from an agriculture-based economy to a service-driven economy and that is creating a favorable environment for entrepreneurship and innovation.

RELATED: UN Broadband Commission meets in Rwanda to tackle digital divide

I urge our institutions to fund startups and their innovations while also providing training, coaching and mentorship initiatives. With incubators, accelerators, and enabling ecosystems, the private sector is stronger and more organized, creating opportunities, jobs, and wealth.

“My message is simple: believe in yourself and in your innovation. Because this is what we are: innovators. Entrepreneurs in Africa have so many opportunities as every sector needs their input.”

Hooza benefited from such initiatives through the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2015 where our idea was chosen out of thousands other African entrepreneur’s projects. We benefited from a mentorship and training program. Our business plan was validated by Accenture and we received seed capital. Such initiatives can be serve as an example to other African institutions and governments to benefit everyone.

5. How did you get to where you are today? Did you have to overcome any particular challenges to get there?

I decided to move from a senior executive position in the private sector to create my own media house Hooza in 2013.

My idea was to create a convergent media using mobile phones as a medium. As mobile phones were becoming the main platform to access content, I wanted to offer audio, video and text content accessible from feature phones and smartphone.

So I started with multimedia content distribution, then I developed ideas to support community development in sectors such as health, education, natural disasters, emergency situations, and public safety. The aim was to provide an effective tool for both top down and bottom up data collection and communications, which would help tostrengthen our institutions.

The challenges are still the same: how to find funding when the private sector is weak and the public institutions allocating funds have other, more immediate priorities.

6. As a successful entrepreneur, do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?

My message is simple: believe in yourself and in your innovation. Because this is what we are: innovators. Entrepreneurs in Africa have so many opportunities as every sector needs their input.

We are here to participate in the growth of our economies, let’s build it together, private and public. Also don’t hesitate to ask for help and support, and build a team of trusted partners, co-founders, mentors and advisors.

Today I am giving back to my community, advocating for youth empowerment through entrepreneurship and innovation, and working with various local and international institutions and non-profits.

I have been training and mentoring hundreds of young women and men in business accelerators and incubation hubs, impacting Rwanda’s key economic sectors such as agri-business, information and communication technologies, education and health.

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