Watch the “Bill Gates of Africa” talk about his vision for innovation and technology in Africa

Often described as the “Bill Gates of Africa”, Herman Chinery-Hesse embodies his mantra “Only Africans can save Africa“, and believes that if Africa misses the current global IT boat, there may never again be an opportunity for rapid wealth creation on the continent. He will talk candidly about the challenges, potential and opportunity present in African technology today.

In his own words, “if Africa misses the current global IT boat there may never again be an opportunity for rapid wealth creation on the continent“.

Top 8 Samsung Ignite start-ups announced

Eight local technology start-ups have been offered a unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to delegates, potential investors and media at this year’s Tech4Africa conference, taking place at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg on 27 and 28 October.

This platform has been created by virtue of Samsung Ignite, an initiative that aims to showcase and foster local technology development, and which has been made possible by Samsung Apps store, in association with Tech4Africa. In the words of Gareth Knight, our founder and MD, “this platform allows local technology innovators to showcase their ideas to a broad audience, potential investors and technology entrepreneurs who have walked this path before”.

Tech4Africa’s primary aim is to promote and inspire local mobile and web innovators, entrepreneurs and developers by inviting global leaders in the sector to share their knowledge and insight with an audience from across the continent. The Samsung Ignite programme is an integral part of the overall conference’s vision that it is hoped will provide the spark that the eight start-ups need to take the next step in their development.

The 8 selected startups include:

10Layer: the most feature-complete, competent and customisable open source content management system for serious publishers and media houses. which offers an innovative online solution to obtain useful, insightful and honest feedback. that allows users to get legally-binding contracts signed in minutes – legally, cheaper, greener and stored forever, with automatic reminders before renewal/expiry.

Lessfuss: is an affordable South African personal assistant service that helps you save time and get things done for as little as R30/task.

Mobiflock: is a product range that consists of a parental control service, a personal smartphone tracker, and a corporate smartphone manager.

Plot my Ride: is a social networking service for the cycling community that offers an easy and real-time means of capturing, displaying, saving and sharing a cyclist’s riding activity.

Real Time Wine: captures the supermarket wine-buying audience and empowers them to discover, review, engage with and buy wine using smartphone apps, game mechanics & barcode scanning.

SnapBill: is an automated billing system that allows users to easily sell their services online.

“We are very passionate about the African market and encouraged by the innovations emerging from the continent, so it’s a natural fit for us to partner with Tech4Africa to present this stage for innovators to showcase their products,” says Brett Loubser, B2C Apps Development Lead at Samsung. “We intend using this partnership to help create a wider network of local developers, reward African innovation in the mobile tech and app space and promote the Samsung Apps Store as an alternative channel for smartphone developers”. Loubser added: “A key outcome of our participation as the Ignite partner is to engage South African developers and therefore we have made available a number of discounted tickets to facilitate their involvement at this year’s conference.”

The Samsung Ignite participants will each be afforded five minutes to showcase their products in the main auditorium at the end of the first day of the conference. A panel of judges has been gathered to adjudicate and the winning startup will be announced on the second day of the event, and be given the opportunity to present their start-up to the entire Tech4Africa audience. The winner will also receive the latest Samsung mobile devices and valuable exposure and profiling through the Tech4Africa website.

Calling all startups. Apply to Tech4Africa ‘Ignite’.

We’re proud to launch Ignite, an initiative that will provide leading African startups with the opportunity to pitch their products to a carefully curated panel of Angel investors, mentors and business leaders. Startups selected to partake in the Tech4africa Ignite pitches will be given five minutes to showcase their products, with the opportunity to gain not only potential investors but also invaluable exposure to the wider Tech4Africa audience of thought leaders, decision makers, journalists, influencers and potential recruits.
About the purpose of this event, Gareth Knight, MD of Tech4Africa, said: “Twitter, FourSquare and Gowalla ‘broke’ in the US market, through their pitch stand demonstrations at SxSw. Our DNA is: engage, inspire, enable and innovate and it is for this reason that we decided to launch Ignite to highlight amazing ideas and allow African startups to use Tech4Africa as a platform to enable them to gain valuable press exposure and early stage investment.”

Ignite takes place in the main auditorium at Tech4Africa, happening from 27 to 28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg. The top 8 applicants will be required to demonstrate a working prototype of their early stage product to event attendees and a panel of judges. Whilst there is no formal prize, the winning startup will be announced on the second day of the conference and have the opportunity to present their innovation to the entire Tech4Africa audience. The winner will also receive valuable exposure and profiling through the Tech4Africa website and

Interested startups should visit the Ignite page at the Tech4Africa site or get in touch using Deadline for submission is August 31, finalists will be announced in the first week of September.

The world-class line-up of technology evangelists presenting at Tech4Africa this year will provide South Africans the opportunity to learn about the role the web plays in African business and development. Keynote speakers include Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, and Herman Chinery-Hesse, commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’. Spear and Chinery-Hesse join African and international thought leaders from organisations like Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, Motribe, Clearleft, Ultinet Systems and many more.

m-Pedigree awarded the Grand Prix NetExplorateur 2011

At the fourth NetExplorateur Forum, the Grand Prix NetExplorateur 2011 was awarded to m-Pedigree. The Ghana-based project uses the mobile phone as a weapon against pharmaceutical counterfeiting with the aim of saving lives.

At UNESCO headquarters, Paris, Eric Besson, French Minister for Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy awarded the Grand Prix NetExplorateur to Bright Simons, founder of m-Pedigree, at a ceremony that also recognised nine winners of NetExplorateur of the Year awards. Every year, the Grand Prix NetExplorateur goes to the world’s best digital innovation.

m-Pedigree: saving lives with just a text message

Created in Ghana and successfully piloted in six African countries to date, the m-Pedigree platform is supported by technological partners such as Hewlett-Packard for IT infrastructure, pharmaceutical laboratories and government bodies. It makes instant authentication of drugs possible. Anyone can send a free text message to m-Pedigree quoting the code on the medicine’s packaging. The system sends back a message saying whether the product is genuine.

Fake medicine kills an estimated 2,000 people a day worldwide, chiefly in Africa and Southeast Asia. In some developing countries, fake medicine accounts for up to 25% of the market according to the WHO.

The NetExplorateur Forum: exclusive insight into the digital revolution

As the culmination of a year’s observation and analysis of the changes in digital society on a global scale, the NetExplorateur Forum was created in 2008. It has become an unmissable event at which 1,500 senior figures from business, politics and the media can grasp the most significant emerging initiatives and the most promising breakthroughs.

Thierry Happe, founder of the NetExplorateur Observatory, commented: “The Grand Prix NetExplorateur 2011 is an exemplary African initiative that delivers an exportable model, because fake medicine is now a global problem.”

The 9 NetExplorateurs of the Year 2011 (in addition to the Grand Prix)

CENSO 2010 (Brazil) The first fully digital national census of almost 200 million people.

HAL (Japan) A robot suit that enhances the muscle strength of people with reduced mobility and helps the human body in the hardest physical tasks.

FLATTR (Sweden) The first voluntary micropayment platform for rewarding the creators of digital content, with no amount too small.

E-SKIN (USA) A synthetic skin that gives robots a sense of touch.

LEWATMANA (Indonesia) A collaborative platform for beating the traffic in Jakarta.

OBAMI (South Africa) Creating a dedicated portal for schools through the social network concept.

NATURAL SECURITY (France) A biometric authentication system making electronic payment easier and safer.

MYTOWN (USA) Turning the real world into a Monopoly board where players can buy their favourite places to win points and deals.

DATASIFT (UK) A system that analyses messages from social media in real time.