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Round 1 Winners!

Round 1 of the Africa Rural Connect competition came to a close at noon eastern time on August 15th,. We had the opportunity to catch up with the primary contributors of the three award-winning ideas and get an inside look on what has inspired them to build these ideas and bring them to the ARC community. You can listen to each of these brief testimonials below:

1st Place: Zittnet- harnessing information to make rural markets work better

Communication Tower erected by Zittnet in rural Nigeria. Credit:

Primary contributor Cicely Brown explains the Zittnet project to us:

"Fantsuam’s mission is to fight poverty and disadvantage through integrated development programmes.  ICT has been a key part of this fight since we started the Computer Learning Centre in 2001 in response to local demand for computer skills.  In 2007 we added ZittNet as the local internet service provider.  Our aim is to provide demand and supply services to enable ICT related businesses (such as cyber cafes) to thrive across southern Kaduna providing both livelihoods and incomes for small businesses as well as the infrastructure that would enable us to harness ICT to meet everyday needs and improve business effectiveness

ANCs emerged as a response to the challenges that we saw our microfinance clients facing.  Often having to travel long distances to market (with the costs of transport involved) they could be compelled to sell produce at below market prices just in order to avoid paying the return freight fare.  Equally they would not be able to respond if there was unusual demand in the market. 

More information is going to be vital to making ANCs really work.  More information about the pricing mechanisms that operate within local and regional markets, understanding the role of the ‘middle men’ within the system, and understanding the relationships of trust that exist between buyers and suppliers to ensure that once introduced, the centres are accepted and used.

We are working with a professor from Strathclyde University who has been working with USAID Markets on a project in Kano State to refine our information requirements.  Also in September we are expecting a short-term volunteer from VSO to carry out a Rapid Market Analysis project which we aim to tailor in order to share information gathering activities.

Additionally, we are in the process of implementing a government funded Community Communications Centre.  This support will help us to build and extend our ISP infrastructure to support both cyber cafes and ANCs in the surrounding rural areas"

Photo: Communication Tower erected by Zittnet in rural Nigeria. Photo credit:

2nd Place: Create a Solar Powered Energy Revolution across West Africa

Primary contributor, Paul Munro, currently in Mexico, tells us about his idea:

Photo: Paul Munro - Research and Development Officer at EFO

3rd Place: Soyamilk Production Expansion

Broad Soy Beans. Credit:

We got in touch with primary contributor, Kingsley Plockey, in Ghana. You may notice some feedback, so feel free to read the transcription along with Kingsley's audio:

"Hello, I’m Kingsley Plockey. My company is Arid Ventures. It’s a private venture. We perfect soybeans; our business is located in Tamale (Ghana). We convert soybeans into soymilk and soy-ice cream. I’m in partnership with my wife, Florence Plockey and one doctor, Stephen Lye, a medical doctor. We started this thing, strange enough, well, we started soybeans and we thought well we could change unemployment. After that we’ll go into business and then at the same time serving the nutritional needs of the community - the community in which we are; at the same time creating market revenue for the farmers.

We use, firstly, the utilities we use in producing the soymilk are water-dousing and electricity.

We ask for help with safety but we will retail the products in town. Some are in the schools.

While unfortunately we have a problem with the shelf-life of the products- this is our main effort in our belief we need a pasteurizer to help us to maintain the shelf-life. We would be able to sell to more people and even put it on the shelves in some of the stores in town. We are putting that - there may be a time when we may complete that. A lot of people will also come to the business so we are also exploring other products that we could go into like Tofu and maybe any other thing, right now we haven’t tried the tofu but any other thing we will get."

These are the Runner-ups who recieved Round Winner Badges:

CreditSMS: The Future of Microfinance (

Solar-powered, Eco-friendly ovens 

Sahara Botanicals


Portable Drinking Water Filtration System

Ecological sanitation system using human urine as a fertilizer to replenish nutrient-depleted agricultural soi



Remember, Round 2 has just begun and will be running until September 15th. There is still time to get involved and collaborate on some new ideas. Post your idea soon!

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