On Tuesday August 27, 2013, Google Africa announced the launch of a new initiative called Expired ‘Africa Connected: Success stories powered by the web,’ and invited the public to nominate potential beneficiaries.
In a post on the Google Africa blog, Affiong Osuchukwu, Google Nigeria’s country marketing manager wrote: “Today we are launching a new initiative: “The connected Africa: success through web”, and we need you. Have you or do you know someone who has embraced the Internet and Google tools? Has it changed your life, your passion or your profession? If so, we want to hear your story!”
As part of the Connected Africa initiative, the 5 most interesting stories will be worth the author a US $ 25 000 each – meaning that Google is to give out a total of US $ 125,000 in prize money to the winners. The winners will also have the opportunity to work with Google to make their champion even more adventure thrilling.
“While surfing the web sites in Africa, we have already identified exciting stories such as that of Just A Band , a Kenyan musical and artistic collective, or Chike, a businessman and his family residing in Nigeria, who created mobile app Afrinolly , already downloaded more than 3 million times. Among other promising achievements are also included: Naa , a young Ghanaian designer jewelery, Christmas , a Togolese citizen journalist, Mdu , a young South African leader or Asurf , a Nigerian director autodidact,” stated Osuchukwu.
According to Google, all the mentioned individuals and projects have used Google tools to develop and deploy their ideas. The initiative therefore aims to recognize those who use the web and technology to achieve extraordinary things – be they a photographer, entrepreneur, fashion designer or a community activist.
The competition includes several categories – Education; Entertainment/ Arts / Sports; Technology; Communities and NGOs and Small Business (SMEs).
The most promising 20 semi-finalists will be selected to participate in an interview and produce a short promotional video after which a jury of Googlers and external judges will select 10 finalists.
Applications must be received between 27 August 2013 and 31 October 2013. The contest will end in February 2014, with the announcement of the winners.
However, a keen look at the Google Africa initiative reveals several similarities with Orange Kenya’s “Opportunity Changes with Orange” campaign which has been personified by Kenya’s Olympic javelin finalist Julius Yego.
The Orange campaign – which picked Julis Yego due to the fact that his story “demonstrates a great Kenyan story of opportunity enhanced by the Internet” – saw people sharing their inspiring stories via the Opportunity Changes with Orange portal and winning various telcom’s-related prizes from the company.
There are even allegations that Google Africa has even gone a step further and approached Julius Yego to become the face of its Africa Connected project despite the fact that the athlete has an existing 2-year deal with Orange as its mobile internet ambassador.
If this turns to be true, Google may seem to be attracted to the fact that Yego has used the internet – and mainly Google’s YouTube service– to learn and train himself as a javelin thrower.
We will wait to see how this develops in the coming weeks…