The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has declared the Nigerian duo of Ikechukwu Umezurumba and Dominic Chidiebere Nwaogu among the winners of this year’s Innovation Challenge, which was part of the Global Innovation Forum, a flagship ITU event that focuses on fostering innovation based on information and communication technologies (ICTs), in line with Members States’ expectation from the Connect 2030 Agenda to “enable innovation in telecommunications/ICT in support of the digital transformation of society” (Goal 4).

While Ikechukwu Umezurumba was among the winners in the digital change-maker challenge category, Dominic Chidiebere Nwaogu won in the category of the ecosystem best practice challenge in the awards ceremony honouring the 20 winners globally.

Twelve women and eight men received awards across three challenge categories: The digital change-maker, ecosystem best practice, and women in tech. Other winners across the world are Tafadzwa Ronald Chikwereti (Zimbabwe), Carlos Eduardo Mosquera Reyes (United States), Mojca Karin Rehar (France), James Gachara Kiruri (Kenya), and Thomas Müller (South Africa) won  the digital change-maker challenge category.

In the category of the ecosystem best practice challenge, the following contenders won: Diana Artiom (Moldova), Nahel Muhammad Amirah (Egypt), Ivana Kostic (Serbia), Galina Dremova (Russia), Wilda Romadona (Indonesia), Laila Abdullah Khasib Al Hadhrami (Oman), Zainab Khan (Pakistan), and Franca Vinci (Italy).

Finally, the winners of the women in tech challenge category were: Nindya Miesye Agita Pasaribu (Indonesia), Calister Apollonary Simba (Tanzania), Achia Khaleda Nila (Bangladesh), Rani Mutiarawati (Indonesia), and Nabuyuni Ann Sankan (Kenya).

Meanwhile, the highlight of the  ITU 2020 Global Innovation Forum, held from 26 to 30 October is the importance of entrepreneurship-driven innovation in the context of a global pandemic. ​​​

Speaking at the forum, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao noted: “Supporting entrepreneurship-driven innovation has never been more important. Simply put, innovation pushes the boundaries of what is possible. It creates jobs, economic growth, and new ways to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. ICT innovators need access to the resources to take their ideas to market and access to a well-developed broadband infrastructure.”

He noted that while digital technologies have the potential to change lives and significantly accelerate sustainable development, many communities lack access to an enabling environment as key stakeholders often fail to understand, develop and renew the competitive practices that fuel digital transformation. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for countries’ transition to a digital economy by negatively affecting socio-economic conditions worldwide.

“Entrepreneurship-driven innovation has been a rising priority for ITU stakeholders since the 2014 World Telecommunication Development Conference in Dubai,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. “This forum enabled participants to share insights and discover new practices. By bringing diverse stakeholders to connect with change-makers for more action-oriented outcomes, we hope that symbiotic relationships will develop to ensure sustainable and competitive digital ecosystems that unlock communities’ potential,” Houlin added.

During the five-day event, 175 experts in innovation, entrepreneurship and technology discussed how to accelerate digital transformation in their communities, mainstream entrepreneurship and find resources required for digital innovation, and bring resource, problem and solution owners together to achieve digital inclusion.


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