Internet.org has announced the winners of its Innovation Challenge in Africa awards to what it describes as leading examples of ideas, apps, websites and/or online services that provide real value in the categories of education and economic empowerment.

The Facebook-led initiative aims to further Internet.org’s vision of a connected world by recognising entrepreneurs and start-ups who are building solutions to improve education and the economic health of communities across the African continent.

The winners were presented with two $150,000 Innovation Challenge award prizes: one each to the leading app, website, service or idea that best meets the needs of the designated population categories – Education and Economic Empowerment, as well as four additional $50,000 Impact awards within each category.

Under education, Ghana’s Esoko won a $150,000 Innovation Challenge Award for its web and mobile apps that enable two-way data flows providing smallholder farmers with access to agricultural information and markets.

Nigeria’s SaferMom, a mobile tool that provides pregnant and new mothers with simple tools to help them make informed health decisions, and Ghana’s mPedigree Goldkeys each received a $50,000 under the Impact award. mPedigree Goldkeys is an anti-counterfeiting, tracking and tracing solution that uses consumers’ mobile phones as a verification tool.

South Africa’s social enterprise Hyperion Development took top honours under the Economic Empowerment category, and walked away with the Innovation Challenge Award for introducing the first online course platform for computer science education supported by the largest online community of software developers in Africa.

Under this category Ghana’s Mutti by mPharma,  a platform that enables patients to access high quality affordable medicine with flexible payment terms through micro-payments, and Nigeria’s Tuteria, an online platform that connects people with tutors, coaches or mentors, were named as Impact Award winners.

“Across the African continent, only 28% of the population has access to the internet. To bring more people in Africa online, the internet needs to be accessible, affordable and educational,” said Internet.org in a statement.

“We need to help people understand the possibilities available to them online. Each of the submissions we received has a part in creating a more connected world,” concluded Internet.org.

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