The 2019 Africa Freedom Innovation Challenge

Do you have what it takes to innovate for freedom?

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) is taking a strong stance in its approach to innovation, reinforcing that freedom means progress. We therefore aim to promote social innovation, offering solutions to build a free, open, inclusive and advancing society, now more than ever. 

The FNF has therefore invited creative, innovative ideas to tackle freedom challenges in Africa. FNF in Africa introduced the Africa Freedom Innovation Challenge for 2019 on May 21. The goal was to look for sub-Saharan African groups or individuals to present new, innovative idea to solving a local or national or regional challenge related to good governance, economic participation, fighting corruption or promoting human rights. 

With this startup competition the foundation wants to promote citizen participation in the areas of good governance, economic participation, the fight against bureaucracy and corruption, and advocate human rights, using innovative solutions. The winning proposals were to receive a small grant to put their idea in practice by the end of October 2019. 

Liberals look to the future. The political challenges that we have today require new solutions and an indomitable spirit for reform.

Dr. Jürgen Morlok, former Chairperson of the FNF Board of Trustees at a gathering of the FNF Innovation Hub in Hong Kong 

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Liberal political leaders in the region were invited to promote the competition, as did Clement Stambuli of the UDF in Malawi, and member of Africa Liberal Network's Executive Committee.


The selection process

Candidates could send in their ideas to FNF's Regional Office Sub-Sahara Africa in Johannesburg, indicating precisely what their innovation entails, what their innovation will accomplish, and their estimate of how much it will cost, only in maximum of 450 words. 

In the first phase, the best ten ideas from sub-Saharan Africa were to be invited to pitch their ideas in writing to FNF (between July 22nd and August 16th). In order to do this, they would each receive a grant of 500 Euros. A jury had then to select the best three innovations from the top ten innovation ideas that were submitted from across the continent. The jury was made up of Dr. Rainer Adam (Regional Director for FNF East and Southeast Europe), Inge Herbert (Head Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa & Middle East at the head office of FNF), Nangamso Kwinana (Africa Liberal Network), Ruben Dieckhoff (Head of FNF's Global Themes Management at the head office) and Armin Reinartz (Head of the the FNF Innovation Hub in Hong Kong).

In the next step, the top three ideas would then receive a grant of up to 5000 Euro from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in order to help them bring their ideas to reality (in the second phase between August 26th and October 18th). 

The winning project would then finally be publicly presented and invited to the Global Innovation Challenge in Berlin, Germany on November 6, 2019.

The evaluation of the projects were done on the basis of innovative strength, effectiveness, originality, multiplier strength and user-friendliness in promoting citizen participation through digital and technological means. Another important factor upon which the projects were measured, was the ability to adapt the project to other African locations. The involvement of women and young people and disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minorities, albinos and LGBTQI+ people in the democratic process was particularly emphasized. 

The projects could include computer and smartphone applications (“apps”), multimedia projects, arts, board games and computer games, or social media projects. Candidates were encouraged to be creative. 

The top 10 finalists of the FNF Africa Freedom Innovation Challenge come from the United States of America, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa & Zimbabwe. Here are their submissions below.

INNOVATOR: Odusote, Bami - Nigeria

App providing information on family planning and sexual reproductive health for young people in the villages of Nigeria.


INNOVATOR: Phalira, Welton - Malawi

Using digital technology to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of the Constituency Development Fund in Malawi.


INNOVATOR: Sorunke, Ridwan & Timi Iwayemi - Nigeria

Policy Vault is an online repository for government policies, business regulations, laws and macroeconomic data of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.


INNOVATOR: Du Preez, Clinton - South Africa

A video social series to indirectly educate the electorate about the role of local government.


INNOVATOR: Nsobila, Emmanuel - Ghana

An e-Inclusive "ideas box" for youth and disadvantaged groups.


INNOVATOR: Usaiwevhu, Itayi - Zimbabwe

Salama Space app provides women with information regarding human rights and access to justice.


INNOVATOR: Mouers, Jonathan - South Africa

Using the art of interactive 'djembe' drumming and especially dance to create a gateway and form of expression of freedom.


INNOVATOR: Tairo, Regan Michael - Tanzania

Fika Africa empowers youth with sustainable solutions in education, environment and agricultural sustainability, healthcare, financial literacy and life skills.


INNOVATOR: Ramokgopa, Jimmy - South Africa

Politricks SA is an online and social media platform to encourage young people to engage in socio-economic and political matters.


INNOVATOR: Njuguna, Robert - Kenya

Urban warrior movement is activism through t-shirt designs in Kenya.


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The announcement of the top 10 finalists


Each jury member was allowed to give 3 points for the best project, 2 points for the second best and 1 point for the third best. Their findings were submitted to us on Monday, August 26th. 

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Video motion graphic announcing the top 3 Africa Freedom Innovation Challenge finalists.


The Finalist: Ridwan Sorunke (Nigeria) and Zarina Bentum (Ghana) from Policy.Vault Africa

PolicyVault.Africa is an online repository for government policies, electoral guidelines, business regulations, laws, investment guides, and macroeconomic data of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was conceived by public policy graduate students of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) motivated by the absence of a platform to store policy data, which has historically been difficult to access by African citizens, civil society, researchers, and investors. It is a first of its kind project aimed at enabling stakeholders to search for any policy in any sector in any country in Africa.

The FNF's Regional Director, Mr. Jules Maaten commented on this competition saying that: “Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with the average age being around 20 years old. This young generation is highly motivated to make something of their lives, many of them through innovative startup initiatives. This is not made easy by the red-tape and corruption that they find on their way. In FNF's Africa Freedom Innovation Challenge we looked for Africans with ground-breaking ideas on how to strengthen democracy and good-governance. We received responses from across Africa, and after a competitive process one winner emerged. It is testament both to the innovative spirit of young Africans, and to the commitment to clean and transparent government, and gives hope for the future of this vast continent.”