Kenya’s William Baraza and Joseph Sevilla win grants in ITU’s Connect2Recover research contest

The ITU has, through the Connect2Recover initiative, organized the “Connect2Recover Research Competition” to identify promising research proposals that will accelerate digital inclusion during the COVID-19 recovery globally. For the contest, ITU partnered with and received support from Huawei, an ITU-D Sector Member. ​

The contest marked the first time that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the specialised agency of the UN for ICTs, has organised an international competition under Connect2Recover. This offers an unprecendented opportunity to contribute towards digital inclusion during the pandemic.

Remote access to education, work, and healthcare is more important than ever before. However, there is a persistent lack of meaningful connectivity for billions of people. According to the latest ITU statistics, 37 percent of the global population still have no access to the Internet. To accelerate digital inclusion when it is most needed, Huawei has donated 15 research grants to Connect2Recover, an inspirational global initiative launched and led by ITU since August.

On December 21, 2021, the winners of the grants – among them being William Baraza of African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI) and Joseph Sevilla of Strathmore University, both from Kenya – were announced in Geneva, Switzerland. The winning teams consist of contributors from 44 institutions worldwide, and cover a broad range of solutions supporting digital inclusion. Their projects address the local circumstances in 32 countries of which 14 are among the poorest in the world. Concretely, the teams will create insights such as providing telemedicine for underserved rural communities, standardized mapping tools, and developing a common data space to promote the development of the data economy also in developing countries.

In total, ITU received 307 proposals from 80 countries. The great interest in the research competition underlines the importance of finding viable solutions to bring connectivity to everyone. The results of the research projects will be published as Research Briefs in the ITU publication series, Build Back Better with Broadband: Research Stories from the Frontline. A summary presentation is also planned at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in June 2022.

Meet the Winners:

Below are the winners, among them being two Kenyans – William Baraza of African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI) and Joseph Sevilla of Strathmore University. ​ ​​ ​ ​ ​ ​

1 Michael P. Canares
 Michael P. Cañares
Philippines​ Step Up Consulting​ Making Higher Education Truly Inclusive
2 William Baraza
 William Baraza
Kenya African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI) Market Resilience in Emerging Digital Economies: Case Study of Kenya During Covid-19 Pandemic
3 Stan Karanasios
 Stan Karanasios
Australia University of Queensland Digital Transformation of Micro-Enterprises in Ghana
4 Joseph Sevilla
 Joseph Sevilla
Kenya Strathmore University Rebuilding Digital Inclusion for the Rural Counties of Kenya
5 Melissa Densmore
 Melissa Densmore
South Africa University of Cape Town CoLRN: A Community-based Vision for Local Resilient Networks
6 Hassan Radoine
 Hassan Radoine
Morocco Mohammed VI Polytechnic University A Policy Framework for Education Resilience
7 Mohamed Slim Alouini
 Mohamed-Slim Alouini
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Network in a Box to Provide Health Services in Remote Areas
8 Michael Max Buhler
 Michael Max Bühler
Germany University of Applied Sciences Konstanz (HTWG) Creating a Blueprint for Africa’s Transition Towards an Inclusive and Competitive Digital Economy: Identifying Potential Industries, Stakeholders, and Use Cases for the Development of a Federated Digital Platform and Advanced Services with a Focus on Botswana
9 Fredrick Kanobe
 Fredrick Kanobe
Uganda Kyambogo University An Assessment of Digital Inclusion among the Vulnerable Persons in Developing Economies: A Comparative Study between Uganda and South Africa Economies
10 Lasisi Salami LAWAL
Lasisi Salami Lawal 
Nigeria Federal University of Technology Digital Health Inclusion to Enhance Nigeria’s Health Service Delivery
11 Wondwossen Mulualem Beyene
Wondwossen Mulualem Beyene
Ethiopia Freelance researcher Determinants of Digital Inclusion in Higher Education: Exploring the Ethiopian Context
12 Maniam Kaliannan
Maniam Kaliannan
Malaysia School of Business, University of Nottingham How Contemporary Digital Inclusion Strategies can Reinvigorate the Quality of Life for the Elderly Population in Post-COVID Malaysia?
13 Benet C Henry
 Benet C. Henry MD
Dominica A-MEDIC Inc; Optipharm Eye Centre Telemedicine: An Approach in the Management of Chronic Diseases in Dominica
14 Forbes Makudza
 Forbes Makudza
Zimbabwe Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences The Digital Financial Inclusion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) of the COMESA Region into Electronic Business During and Post COVID-19 Pandemic
15 Edward Asiedu
 Edward Asiedu
Ghana University of Ghana Digital Health Provision Through Telemedicine Ecosystem In Sub-Saharan Africa

​​ ​As a knowledge partner with worldwide expertise on digital infrastructure, Huawei will follow the winning submissions closely and provide support where possible.


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