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​The City of Johannesburg Member of Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Finance, Councillor Jolidee Matongo on Friday, 29 February 2021, announced the winners of the first round of the Smart City Innovator Challenge Awards.

The winners were selected, among a total of 82 competitors, after they entered the innovation challenge following a call in May 2020. They presented innovations that were designed to provide solutions to service delivery challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

MMC Matongo announced Ms. Oratile Seabela of Malii Fintech and business partners - Mr. Antony Seeff and Mr. Howie Sommerfeld of SPEAKK Mahala App as the two winners of the Johannesburg Smart City Innovator Challenge Awards 2020. 

The innovation entrepreneurs saw their innovations incubated by the City, in partnership with the Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, for piloting within the municipality – a process valued at R100 000 for each of the winning innovations.

“Congratulations to both Malii Fintech and SPEAKK Mahala App on winning the first round of the Johannesburg Smart City Innovator Challenge. I personally look forward to seeing more people of Johannesburg take advantage of the innovations to both keep safe and experience convinience in the times of the Covid-19’s new normal in Johannesburg,” said MMC Matongo.

Malii Fintech scooped one of the two awards of the Innovator Challenge with an innovative solution for the transport sector. The innovation was designed to promote safety during a taxi ride through the use of a mobile payment network that enables commuters to pay for taxi fare using a QR code app or a bank card. 

This solution replaces the passing of cash from one passenger’s shoulder and hands to another before it gets to the driver, and potentially speading Covid-19 in the process.

SPEAKK Mahala App, which is the other winner of the Challenge, presented a data-free communications solution that enables Johannesburg residents to get in touch with the City about municipal services using the zero-based data app.

MMC Matongo described the winning innovations as ideal for the people of Johannesburg to utilise to keep safe during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “Both the winning innovations are inline with the City’s primary objective to provide solutions to urban community challenges and promote adherance to safety protocols during and post the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

MMC Matongo said the announcement of the Smart City Innovator Challenge Awards 2020 winners today also urshered in a new call for competitors in 2021.

“I am pleased to declare the new round of the Johannesburg Smart City Innovator Challenge open for new innovators to compete for the number one spot in 2021,” he said. 
The Challenge application forms can be found on the websites of the City and Tshimologong, and on our social media accounts from Tuesday, 02 February 2021. The application form must be completed and submitted by the 15th of March 2021 deadline. 

“The challenge is an opportunity for Johannesburg citizens with authentic innovative ideas to partner with the City in finding innovative solutions to service delivery challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and help all of us keep safe,” MMC Matongo said. 

Mr. Lawrence Boya, the Johannesburg Smart City Office Lead, said: “The innovation call is an opportunity for innovators of our City to bring forward their innovative solutions to help our City respond in a smarter way to challenges posed by Covid-19. We also hope to use this initiative to help to grow innovation in Joburg and thus making Joburg the leading African city of innovation.” 

“Solutions sought should either save lives or support livelihoods; enable detection, tracking, and prediction of the spread of the virus, as well as enhance communication and improve healthcare and security in the City,” explained Mr Boya. 

Ms. Lesley Donna Williams, the Tshimologong CEO, said: “We should always be alive to these challenges when we seek solutions through start-up digital entrepreneurs.” “Through such partnerships, we can break some of these barriers and begin to give space to start-up digital entrepreneurs in our townships and elsewhere in the City,” she said.

The new competitors will be competing for the first prize valued at R150 000, which  is the value of the incubation process of their innovative idea by the City in partnership with the Tshimologong Precinct. The prize also includes piloting the idea. 

Any resident of the City who is a South African aged under 40 years or a founder of a small to medium business entity that is locally registered can enter the Smart City Innovator Challenge 2021. However, it is important to also note that the municipal accounts of participants must be up to date and their tax affairs must be in order as everyone will be vetted for compliance and each innovation checked for originality.


Issued by the City of Joburg

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