1 December 2021
ICT Minister Witnesses Announcing AAL Cup 2021 Results

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has witnessed, via videoconference, the announcement of the results of the third and final edition of the African App Launchpad (AAL) Cup 2021 competition, organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), represented by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), and implemented by the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC).

AAL is an initiative launched by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in November 2018, during the World Youth Forum, held in Sharm El Sheikh. The initiative is aimed at building the capacities of 10,000 Egyptian and African youth and supporting the establishment of 100 African startups specializing in app and game development.

The initiative also aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in a way that contributes to creating job opportunities and stimulating economic growth. AAL targets bringing African youth together under the umbrella of Egypt; developing innovative solutions to the challenges facing the goals of development, sustainability, and prosperity in Africa; and raising awareness of the challenges facing the technology community in different African countries.

Talaat underlined that the conclusion of the competition represents the culmination of the tireless efforts made over three years since the launch of AAL presidential initiative. He explaining the boom achieved in capacity-building programs and initiatives in Egypt and Africa despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. Talaat stressed that the initiative was launched with the aim to make optimal use of digital solutions to serve the African continent, and out of believing in the ability of young Africans to harness technology and develop innovative and creative solutions to overcome societal challenges in the continent.

The ICT Minister added that Egypt has adopted a holistic approach and vision based on a pyramid-shaped model for building young people’s digital skills in different ICT sciences. The training budget was doubled 22-fold over three years, and the number of trainees increased 50 times. In addition, several initiatives were carried out to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, foster creativity, and encourage research and development (R&D).

Furthermore, Talaat said that AAL was launched with the aim of sharing capacity building programs in digital app and game development with brothers in African countries. This will help create job and business opportunities for African youth through supporting the establishment of startups and building educational networks in modern technologies to serve as platforms for technological innovation and entrepreneurship. Talaat pointed out that the initiative is complemented by other long-term capacity building programs, including the programs provided by the Egyptian African Telecom Regulatory Training Center (EG-ATRC), and the Regional Postal Training Center.

The ICT Minister reviewed the outcomes of AAL, including training about 10,000 young people, students, and graduates, who completed 27,377 training courses in 30 technological tracks and specializations. The initiative also supported the establishment of more than 100 startups.

Talaat stated that the top participants of the initiative will have the opportunity to present their experience at the World Youth Forum, in January 2022. He thanked the organizing team for carrying out the initiative and reaching 22 African countries.

For his part, ITIDA CEO Amr Mahfouz staid that AAL is the first of its kind in Africa; it provides early-stage entrepreneurs and startup a key platform to grow and showcase their innovative ideas and projects, along with awards and funds.

Mahfouz explained that the competition features two tracks: Game Development and App Development. He added that 245 startups from 16 African countries applied to participate in the final version of the competition, representing a 30% increase, compared with 2020 applications.

ITIDA Vice President and TIEC Chairperson Hossam Osman reviewed the selection process of the startups that applied for the competition, where 50 startups reached the first qualifying round. They received online technical training in fields including business planning and acceleration, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science. Out of the 50 startups, 28 from eight African countries qualified for the final round after they pitched their innovative ideas and business projects to a jury including members from Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa.

A jury composed of members from Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco supervised the finals of the competition. Six startups won the top three spots in the two tracks of the competition, receiving a total cash prize of $48,000. The other teams that made it to the finals won a cash prize of total $1,000, offered by MCIT.

In the App Development track, Africa Innovation Technology Group from Cameroon won first place; Boxconn Technologies from Ghana and Qme from Egypt won second place; and Arete Consulting from Egypt won third place. In the Game Development Track, Dimension11 from Nigeria won first place and Alkemiza from South Africa won third place.

Concluding his speech, the ICT Minister praised the ideas he witnessed and the winners of the competition. He said that the winning projects confirm beyond any doubt that the Egyptian and African youth have creative and innovative thinking and that they are on the right track. They are building their capacity to employ technology in developing scalable and competitive innovative solutions to serve their societies and achieve prosperity in Africa, he added.

As they pitched their solutions, the representatives and founders of the winning startups thanked Egypt and the team in charge of AAL, for the support they received and the experience and skills they gained, and commended the efforts made in the initiative.

It is worth mentioning that IBM partnered up with ITIDA to train the teams of the startups participating in the competition, providing mentorship programs in entrepreneurship, and technical training in data analysis and AI. In addition, IBM engaged in the evaluation process to select the top applicants and provided the winners with a range of different support services and technical consultation while allowing them to benefit from its tech-focused platforms and programs.

The closing ceremony of the competition was attended by representatives of the participating startups, from Egypt and different African countries, as well as officials from MCIT, TIEC and ITIDA.

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