Tech4Africa, the continent’s only web and emerging technology conference, is calling for entries to its inaugural Tech4Africa Innovation Award. Designed to recognize homegrown innovation and further inspire the industry to develop global solutions to uniquely African challenges, this prestigious award is open to individuals and companies alike.

The 2011 Tech4Africa Conference follows last year’s successful launch of the event, which attracted more than 500 developers, marketers, innovators and business executives. Some of the industry’s leading minds gathered for two days to participate in presentations by and discussions with international speakers on the state of web and emerging technology on the continent.

“The Tech4Africa Innovation Award is another mechanism for us to realise our goal to engage, inspire, enable and innovate,” says Gareth Knight, MD ofTech4Africa. “Africa has produced some incredible innovations to address problems that are considered unique, although these solutions often find traction around the globe.

“We want to recognise a single person or company that has developed something that has changed the lives of people in Africa. A great number of successful innovations emerge every year, yet many slip under the radar and this is something we hope to remedy through this initiative.”

The process has been broken down to its bare bones in a bid to make applying as simple and cost-effective as possible. Individuals or companies therefore need only send a single-page synopsis of their product or service, what the innovation is and the level of success or traction that it has attained. The only qualifying criteria are that the innovation must have been in the market for at least one and a half years and have been created by Africans to solve uniquely African challenges. Participants are welcome to nominate themselves or suggest a deserving recipient.

Entries for the Tech4Africa Innovation Award close on 12 September, following which a list of 10 finalists will be drawn up. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony to be held the night of 26 October as a curtain raiser for the two-day conference that starts the following day.

“The judging panel will consist of industry experts, community members and conference partners,” says Knight. “We are trying to keep the process as open and transparent as possible and are busy concluding the prize details. We have no doubt it will carry a lot of prestige and exposure and enable the winner to use this recognition to drive or develop the innovation further.”

The 2011 Tech4Africa Conference will be hosted at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg from 27 to 28 October. Registration for the conference is open, with full details at www.tech4africa.com. Details relating to the Tech4Africa Innovation Award can be found at www.tech4africa.com/innovation-award.