MTN Uganda has launched a Ugx1 billion (US$270,000) start-up fund for local tech start-ups, representing a financial boost for start-ups that participate in the operator's innovation challenge series.
The company released a statement confirming the first of these challenges is the MTN Open API Challenge starts on 3 December 2018. Participants will make their entries on the innovation challenge website.
Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN Uganda CEO, said, "I encourage as many start-ups as possible to participate in the several innovation challenges we shall be hosting in order to access funding."
The operator, via the MTN Foundation, also unveiled a Ugx310m (US$81,000) high speed internet connectivity package to the Innovation Village. The package includes free internet connectivity for use by young developers and innovators as part of its youth empowerment drive.
In its statement MTN Uganda also confirmed that it had also granted third-parties access to its Mobile Money Access Programming Interface (API).
The company says this gives Ugandan developers the opportunity to build products that will enhance financial inclusion, improved customer experience when making payments and improve the movement of virtual money.
Elsa Muzzolini, the General Manager, Mobile Financial Services MTN Uganda, said, "This is an exciting development for the Ugandan start-ups ecosystem. Innovators will now be able to develop applications that ease the customer experience in terms of mobile money payments. We do hope that this move will spur innovation in the developer community around the country because this is the first time this is being done here."
According to the statement, in January 2018 MTN Uganda and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) entered a partnership intended to "drive customer growth and activity by facilitating a wider range of mobile wallet applications for all customers through open APIs."
According to CGAP, open APIs have the potential to further drive financial inclusion, which is already being accelerated by the usage of mobile money.
Africa's start-up ecosystem
In August 2018 the Alibaba Group's Jack Ma launched the Jack Ma Netpreneur Prize to support African entrepreneurs with US$10 million in prize money.
Alibaba said it has hosted 52 of these African entrepreneurs in its Hangzhou China headquarters as part of the eFounders Fellowship.
According to WeeTracker's African Startups & VC Ecosystems Report, African start-ups have raised US$168.6 million in the first half of 2018.
"African start-ups have strong support system in the form of many tech hubs, incubators and accelerators. The West African nation of Nigeria has emerged as the top destination, standing next is Kenya. Trailing further are countries of Egypt and Africa," read an excerpt from the report.