Five Kenyans Make It to Google’s Africa Connected Semi-Finals

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Google has announced 20 innovative, entrepreneurial web adopters from across sub-Saharan Africa who have made it to the semi-finals of Google’s Africa Connected competition.

Among the 20 are five Kenyans who were selected from over 2,200 entries from 35 countries.

The five include Kangai Mwiti,a makeup artist offering services for weddings, advertisement shooting and other events, who hosts tutorials on her YouTube channel, which has almost 26 000 subscribers, focusing on techniques for women of colour.Bellesa Africa (http://bellesaafrica.com), Steve Kyenze who uses YouTube to inspire his art students and improve their skills, so their artwork can be sold to contribute towards schooling, information about which is researched on Google (Uweza Slum Gallery (http://www.uwezakenya.org) and Sitawa Wafula, an influential blogger on mental health in East Africa who used Google Blogger to establish his award winning blog as a source of reference for people looking for support and information on the topic (My Mind, My Funk (http://sitawa.blogspot.com).

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Others are Dennis Njagi who has used Google and YouTube to develop an interactive website, blog and vlog for primary and high school users who want to learn more about various science topics through experiment instruction, online content and tutorials (RocKeSci : The Funky Scientists (http://www.rockesci.co.ke) and Francis Macharia who used Google and YouTube to teach himself about eco-friendly building techniques which he used to build the successful Pinklakeman Eco-Lodge.Pinklakeman Eco-Lodge (http://www.pinklakeman.com).

Africa Connected was launched in August last year and called entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and web-lovers to share their stories of how the web has transformed their lives and work. At the end of the competition, five successful entrants will win $25,000 [ZAR 278,000] each, and will also have the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period to further their business success. The competition categories included Education; Entertainment/Arts/Sports; Technology; Community and NGOs; and Small Businesses.

“We received over 2,200 entries from a diverse set of 35 countries across the continent, ranging from Mali to Uganda to Namibia. Each of them demonstrated how people are using the web and technology to overcome challenges, do extraordinary things, and be successful, not only for themselves but also for others in their communities. The projects include everything from using YouTube to learn about eco-friendly building techniques, to an award-winning blog on mental health. Selecting the 20 semi-finalists was tough, but we were really impressed with their initiatives, and wish them the best in the next round!” says Affiong Osuchukwu, Google Lead for the Africa Connected initiative.

Joe Mucheru, Country Manager and SSA Ambassador for Google says, “It is a privilege for Kenya to produce 5 semifinalists out of the possible 20 in this competition. This demonstrates how internet has played a critical role in the lives of Kenyans.”

The 20 semi-finalists were selected from initial entries to take part in an interview and to produce a short promotional video. A judging panel, made up of Googlers and external judges will now determine the 10 finalists. The 5 winners, in whose lives the web and Google have played a pivotal role, will then be selected by the online voting public. The winners will be announced on April 1, 2014 at an event in Nairobi, Kenya.-CIO East Africa

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