Projects from Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa feted at ITU Telecom World Awards

A host of unique innovations were highlighted at the Awards Ceremony, which marked the close of four days of showcasing, networking and debates at ITU Telecom World 2019. Award winning innovations from SMEs, governments and major corporates came from areas as diverse as online education, 5G airships and drones, green 5G, digital addressing, transforming digital heat from datacentres, nanosatellites and enabling barrier free emergency calls.

Winners and finalists in several categories were presented with trophies and certificates by ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao in the presence of hundreds of delegates from across the globe. The Global SME Excellence winner was announced following a live pitching session from finalists in the Awards Ceremony.

“ITU is delighted to announce the Award winners here in Budapest, where the Awards, along with other international services to SMEs, were first launched at ITU Telecom World 2015,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Since then, we have watched this platform grow, support and promote examples of tech for good. This week we have showcased and explored the products and solutions that can change lives and make connectivity truly meaningful. With our ITU Telecom World Award winners, we now recognize another fresh crop of innovators, who I hope will now go forth and take their business onto the global stage.”​

The Awards comprised:​​

    • Global SME Awards: recognizing the best innovative ICT-based solutions with social impact from SMEs present at the event in five classes – Best business model; Most innovative use of ICT; Greatest social impact and Most scalable solution. The Global SME Excellence Award was awarded to the SME with the highest all-around score.
    • Global Industry Awards: for the most promising innovative solutions with social impact in the areas of digital inclusion and principles, meaningful connectivity. solutions and sustainable impact, as selected by an expert jury.
    • Government Award: awarded to the National Pavilion with the most promising innovative SMEs.
  • Host Country Awards: recognized the best and most innovative SME or solutions at the event from Hungary, the event host.

All SMEs in these categories underwent a rigorous application and selection process, with an external jury of social entrepreneurship and tech experts assessing each entrant on the basis of business model, scalability, innovation and social impact. Those shortlisted for the Global SME Awards were invited to take part in a quick-fire pitching sessions in front of an expert jury, during the event, as well as benefit from an SME Programme of workshops, capacity building, pitching sessions, SME-focused Forum sessions.

Also among the SME pitchers, joining an ITU Telecom World Event for the first time, were the EQUALS Fellowship winners, 24 talented female entrepreneurs from developing countries around the world who exhibited on the showfloor, pitched their innovative solutions and took part in the SME Programme.

Award winners:

  • Global SME Excellence Award  

Winner – Immersion4, Switzerland

  • Best Business Model

Winner – Vokacom, Ghana

  • Most innovative use of ICTs 

Winner – Immersion4, Switzerland

  • Greatest social impact 

Winner – UX Information Technologies, Mozambique

  • Most scalable solution​

Winner – Prime Molecular Technologies Africa, South Africa

ITU Telecom World Industry Awards Winners and projects

    • Digital Inclusion & Principles: Ruangguru App, the largest tech-enabled education provider in Southeast Asia, providing a better, accessible and more affordable alternative to quality learning for students and teachers.
    • Meaningful Connectivity Solutions: KT 5G Skyship, a disaster safety specialized platform integrated with the world’s first 5G, unmanned airship and drone technology.
    • Sustainable Impact: Huawei, Green 5G Power to boost climate action. The project innovates technologies that reduce energy consumption by up to 20%.​​​
  • ​ITU Telecom World Government Award 

Winner – Mozambique

  • ​ITU Telecom World Host Country Awards 

Winner – Tresorit, Hungary

Highlights of the Forum Summit, ministerial roundtables and panel discussions at ITU Telecom World 2019 included:​

    • A ministerial roundtable on the role of government in deploying the fifth generation of mobile technologies – 5G – and other high-capacity network concluded that each country should have its own strategy to ensure their people have affordable access to mobile broadband communications. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. Policy-makers and regulators have a key role to play in defining this strategy.
    • Radio technologies play a central role in meaningful connectivity, and global harmonization of the radio-frequency spectrum is vital for efficient use and economies of scale. A dialogue of regulators concluded that governments and industry needed to strengthen partnerships and use a mix of both incumbent and innovative terrestrial and space services to provide connectivity not only to urban areas, but also rural and less populated areas. The upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 will find solutions to the shared use of limited radio-frequency spectrum in the centenary spirit of consensus. A session on new radiocommunication technologies provided an overview of innovative ways to provide affordable connectivity to all. These include high-altitude platform systems (HAPS), small satellites and non-GSO satellite systems.
    • The ‘Smart ABC’ programme shared insight into the latest advances at the intersection of artificial intelligence, banking and smart cities.
    • ITU is developing the global standards for IMT-2020 which are expected to define “5G” in 2020. Industry preparations for IMT-2020 dominated the debate at a meeting ​of CTOs.
    • The ‘Smart Incubator’ programme brought together start-ups from developing countries to discuss how international standards support business growth.
    • Disasters kill at least one million people each decade and leave millions more homeless. When disasters strike, such as Hurricane Dorian, they have an immediate and devastating effect on the lives of people. ITU joined the Crisis Connectivity Charter, a mechanism created between the satellite industry and the wider humanitarian community, to improve coordination and enhance disaster response and preparedness through emergency telecommunications. Satellite communications are often used for rescue and relief operations as well as in vital life-saving responses, since they remain as a resilient solution even when terrestrial communications have been severely damaged.
    • ITU, in partnership with Cisco, launched the Digital Transformation Initiative to equip people with the skills needed to effectively participate in today’s digital society and economy and accelerate digital transformation.
  • The winners of the ITU Innovation Challenge and the 24 female entrepreneurs who made up the first-ever EQUALS delegation at Telecom are making a positive impact in their communities and throughout the world through their tech and tech-related enterprises.

Some 4000 delegates from 125 countries converged on Budapest for the event, which was opened in the presence of Viktor Orbán, the PM of Hungary.

Under the broad theme of Innovating together; connectivity that matters the event showcased and debated the technologies, policies, strategies and approaches that will not only drive connectivity in itself, but extend a connectivity that is secure, affordable, interoperable, relevant and fit for purpose. With local content in local languages, supported by digital skills, digital education and digital awareness. In short, a truly meaningful connectivity.

With over 260 exhibitors, including more than 150 SMEs, and 20 sponsors and partners from over 40 countries, the exhibition showcased technologies from 5G, satellite, e-waste management, robotics, blockchain, Smart ABC (Smart AI, Banking and Cities), smart agriculture, smart homes, climate change mitigation, fintech and more. From 5G powered VR or AR demos to stories of ICTs in action in developing countries, delegates could see, touch and explore first-hand the impact of these technologies.

National Pavilions highlighted talent, innovation, investment and partnership potential from countries around the world and include the host country’s Hungary National Pavilion, showcasing established tech companies, start-ups, universities and incubators. Other Pavilions included Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Japan, Korea, Mozambique, Rwanda and South Africa, with special Pavilion “spotlights” highlighting the ICT industries of Angola, Ghana and Indonesia. Thematic Pavilions included China SMEs, CSAIA (China Satellite Application Industry Association), TIAA (Telematics Industry Application Alliance) and the V4 (Visegrad 4) countries.

The Forum convened an influential global audience spanning governments, key ICT industry players, regulators, international organizations, high-growth SMEs, consultants, academia, media and more – including Euronews, who moderated the Forum Summit. Sessions covered topical areas from technological developments and impacts in 5G, IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart cities, digital literacy to supporting tech SME growth, mitigating gender bias in AI, frontier technologies for climate change, wireless broadband to gigabit strategies and more. Ministerial roundtables convened ministers from across the globe to debate issues such as data privacy, the role of government in 5G deployment or stimulating public private collaboration on connectivity and adoption. Partner sessions provided expert insights in areas such as digital transformation, micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Uganda, spectrum pricing, sustainable next-generation networks and 5G planning, strategy, cooperation.

The event wrapped up with Internet Generation Day, a carefully curated programme of interactive workshops, demos, competitions, guided tours, company presentations and more, especially designed for university students, young entrepreneurs and innovators from Hungary and the region. Curated by Hungary’s leading incubators, accelerators, academia and innovation hubs, the programme a diverse range of topics including robotics, AI, blockchain and fintech.


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