By Bode Adewumi
It was a proud moment of excitement for the Nigerian delegation, led by Mr Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, as two Nigerian startups emerged winners in different categories at the Rocket Fuel Pitch competition, winning $300,000 at the second edition of the LEAP technology exhibition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Pantami was accompanied by Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communication Commission, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta and Managing Director, Nigerian Communication Satellite, Mr Tukur Muhammad Funtua.
Over 10,000 startups submitted applications from different countries.
After rigorous scrutiny, the applicants were down to 220 and only 90 startups were selected to pitch their business ideas in the semi-final.
Eight Nigerian startups participated at the semi-final and three reached the final stage.
One of them is the RiceAfrika Technologies, a tech-driven agric optimisation startup that deploys IoT-enabled harvester and its FARMEasy mobile app for smallholder farming communities in Africa. RiceAfrika believes Africa can feed itself and feed the world.
It emerged as the global best in ‘The Tech for Humanity Award’ category and is coming home with $150,000 dollars while Wicrypt, an innovative tech startup decentralising the internet globally.
The startup has a custom OS and hardware that allows users to share data with people around them and charge an affordable rate. It also won $150,000 after being announced as the global best in the ‘The Into New World Award’ category.
Pantami, leader of the Nigerian delegation, expressed his delight, while maintaining that Nigerian startups have all it takes to compete with their peers on the global stage.