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UNESCO Harare’s YouthMobile Shark Tank rewarded creative young app developers

02 April 2019

Enabling 3D virtual tours of African tourism sites; reducing road accidents by monitoring drivers’ behaviour based on phone sensors; scanning any product and instantly get all information about it: these are among the innovations awarded at the UNESCO Harare YouthMobile Shark Tank event in March 2019.

The Shark Tank event put to a close a three-month YouthMobile training project led by UNESCO Harare. The event was held in partnership with TechWomen Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Courier Services.

Young students, representatives from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Ministry of ICTs and Courier Services, and judges from ICT companies in Zimbabwe attended the Shark Tank event. Twenty-one students and recent graduates from tertiary institutions across Zimbabwe presented and pitched their mobile applications, which showed their innovative thinking and creative ideas. The development of the apps started during the YouthMobile boot camp training that was held at the Africa University, Harare, in December 2018.

Among the three top applications was AfriTour, developed by Belinda Kanfankale from Chinhoyi University of Technology: the mobile application is designed to take people into 3D virtual tours on African tourism sites.

Gamuchirai Mavaindidze from Women’s University in Africa created TriveaDrive, which helps monitor and record a driver’s behaviour based on acceleration, speed and braking in order to reduce road accidents.

The third award went to Business Education and Entertainment (BEE), a mobile application developed by recent graduate Zvikomborero Nyamapfene, which allows users to scan any product and get online information about it, including visuals and 3D images.

During the award ceremony, held on 8th March 2019, Dr. Cosmas Chigwamba, Principal Director in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Courier Services, highlighted the Ministry’s plans to further develop ICT infrastructure and access in Zimbabwe, as well as giving young people a platform to develop innovative solutions for development.

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and the Ministry of ICT and Courier Services have a fund called the Innovation Drive Fund that offers financial support to students to produce applications that can be used commercially in the country.

Hezekiel Dlamini, Communication and Information Advisor at the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare, emphasized that young people should be part of problem-solving in Zimbabwe and in Africa. “Africa cannot afford to be left behind in the ongoing digital transformations. The solutions for Africa should come from Africa“, he said. Mobile phones are a powerful and affordable means to do so.

The UNESCO YouthMobile initiative deploys and supports projects worldwide to promote training in digital technical skills and abilities among young women and men.