Posted by Dele Akinsade
Developer and Platform Evangelist, West, East and Central Africa

I can’t believe Imagine Cup 2012 has come and gone again, after months of build-up and excitement. It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to be part of the journey and to engage with the talented African teams that made it to the finals in Sydney.

Team Gravity from Nigeria at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Sydney

I must congratulate the winners of this year’s Imagine Cup, particularly the overall winner, Team QuadSquad from the Ukraine, who developed an amazing innovation: gloves that translate sign language into speech.  Well done to the Egyptian and Algerian teams who won awards in the IT Challenge, Windows Phone challenge, and Windows Azure challenge, as well as the African teams that participated from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.

Special mention must go to Team Cipher256 from Uganda, who made it to the Top 20, despite not being able to be physically present in Sydney and having to present their project, an affordable mobile antenatal diagnosis solution, to the judges via Live Meeting.

Each year, during the months leading up to Imagine Cup, I am filled with pride when I see the quality of the projects developed by students across Africa, and hope and excitement at their prospects in the competition.

Team Sen Section from Senegal at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Sydney

But what excites me most is what happens after the competition is over, when the excitement dies down, and everybody gets back to real life.

I recently checked in with some of the finalists from last year’s worldwide finals, and was thrilled to find out how well they are doing. Team Nerds from Nigeria, for example, has already started their own company and is working on a new web application that allows teachers to develop and customise lessons for their students using high quality multimedia tools. Several members of the other finalist teams from last year are working on their own startups, while others are pursuing their studies with the confidence of knowing what they are already capable of.

This is the real value of Imagine Cup: the unique experience it offers, the networking opportunities, and the confidence it instills in participants.

Team E-Soft from Côte d’Ivoire at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Sydney

I want to encourage this year’s finalist teams not to see this as the end of journey, but as the beginning of one – it’s now time for you to really shine, pursue your dreams, and take what you have learned to help shape Africa’s future. 

And lastly, I want to call upon African students to start thinking of new ways of using technology to help solve Africa’s challenges. You could join us in St Petersburg, Russia next year for the 2013 Imagine Cup Finals!

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