The 2016-2017 King Baudouin African Development Prize was awarded on Tuesday 20th June 2017 at the Belgian Royal Palace, Place du Palais, in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Matilde. There were three beneficiaries, namely, Barefootlaw of Uganda; Farmerline of Ghana; and Kytabu of kenya. The prize, worth a
total of 225.000Euros was in recognition of the outstanding achievements of three young African tech-entrepreneurs whose inventions have impacted the lives of hitherto vulnerable classes of targetted categories in their various countries.
BarefootLaw is the first online legal service in East Africa. Initiator, Gerald Abila, who studied law has used his platform to reach 12million internet users (30% of the population) and 23 million mobile connections in Uganda. With the assistance of volunteers, they have succeeded to make law easily accesssible to citizens who, so empowered, are able to claim their rights. Indeed, the team responds to some 300.000 queries monthly.
Farmerline, an application developed by Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Owusu Addai connects more than 200.000 smallholder farmers, providing them with agronomic services like markets, finanacial information, weather forecasts, farming tips, techniques and equipement through text and oral messages in the local dialect recorded to their mailboxes, most of whom are illiterate. Thanks to the application, some farmers in Ghana report up to 50% growth in their profits.
In 2014, Anthony Ndungu, an innovator in the digital sector and his associates launched a digital education techonology firm, Kytabu ("book" in Swahili) to provide access to school textbooks. Through this digitalized version, providing visual, audio and kinesthetic media, users can rent pre-installed textbooks, chapters or pages on a low-cost android tablet or desttop application. Apart from providing content, the application has the potential to enhance the learning experience of every child by catering to their individual learning needs and styles.
The King Baudouin African Development Prize was established in 1978 to promote social progress. Having reached winners throughout the world, it is now focused on Africa in search for initiatives that significantly empower people to take their development into their own hands. "Beyond the monetary value,... the prize offers a unique opportunity for the winners to take their initiatives to the next level by increasing their visibility and promoting their project to international audiences, " says the foundation.
Prior to the above winners from the continent, the prize has been awarded to laureates in the following African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Uganda, South Africa.
More than three-hundred people were present at the Royal Palace, including Ambassadors of countries represented in Belgium to cheer the winners. The ceremony, which lasted about three hours, included wonderful music with extraordinary instruments with world class artist, Geoffrey Oryema and his band.