Of the four $100 000.00 prize winners in Intel's Inspire:Empower awards made at the recent Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in Beijing, two were from Africa.
The awards were presented by Intel chairman Craig Barrett.
The challenge, which was launched at the IDF in San Francisco last year, called on the developer community to submit the most innovative ideas for applying technology to address some of the world's most pressing problems related to education, health care, economic development and the environment.
More than 200 proposals were submitted from companies, non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGO), universities and individuals from 44 countries around the world.
The first of the two African winners is the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI). Michael Potts, Catholic Relief Services' director for GLCI, is overseeing a pilot project using laptops to help cassava farmers increase food availability and incomes.
Millions of families in East and Central Africa rely on cassava as a primary food source, but two virulent diseases are wiping out fields across the region. GLCI aims to educate more 1-million farmers in six countries about the diseases and provide them with disease-resistant cassava plants.
The laptops will facilitate information exchange among farmers, field agents and project managers; support remote distribution of training modules; and improve disease monitoring through automatic data transfer.
The second winner is Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC) in Uganda. Eric Morrow, executive director of the Maendeleo Foundation in Uganda, operates a computer lab-on-wheels that takes teachers to multiple schools each week to provide PC skills, training up to 100 children per day.
Topped with solar panels to re-charge the computers, the MSCC is a modified SUV with a foldable tent, tables, chairs and 15 Intel-powered classmate PCs. The foundation hopes to open the doors to better paying jobs and to spur an African-owned and operated computer services industry to boost local economies, decrease unemployment and help alleviate poverty.
"The calibre of submissions demonstrates the incredible collaborative power of the developer community to use technology to help solve real-world problems," says Barrett. "Today we honour the winners of this challenge and celebrate the hundreds of other innovative ideas aimed to help promote social and economic growth worldwide."
The winners of the four $100 000.00 prizes were evaluated primarily for impact, sustainability and innovation. The prize money will be used solely toward the implementation of the solutions.