Nine innovations blazing a trail for zero hunger in Africa

WFP Innovation Accelerator
7 min read5 days ago

Meet the nine finalists of the second edition of the Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa who are enhancing food security and food systems resilience across the continent with technology-powered solutions and approaches.

By Nourdine Khalifeh and Jackie Negro

Nine digital solutions will participate in the upcoming Kofi Annan Award for Innovatoin in Africa bootcmap. Photo: WFP/Sanjna Sudan

Innovative ideas and creative impulses are necessary to build a robust food supply now and in the future. Particularly in Africa, where hunger is still on the rise ever since COVID-19 disrupted the global food system, the challenge to achieve SDG 2 remains stark. It’s important to redouble global efforts to transform agri-food systems requires new, innovative solutions.

To support these efforts, the Austrian Federal Chancellery and the Kofi Annan Foundation have created the second edition of the Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa. Operationally supported by the Austrian Development Agency and the WFP Innovation Accelerator, this edition of the award seeks to regain lost progress on SDG 2 in Africa.

The finalists in the second cohort provide technology-powered solutions to enhance food security and food systems resilience throughout Africa. Specifically, ventures in the cohort were selected based on the following two challenge areas: circular solutions and reduction of post-harvest losses and the inclusion of marginalized groups in food security.

After a rigorous selection process, nine ventures emerged as high-potential solutions to these challenge areas. This week, they will participate in an innovation bootcamp where they will examine challenges, devise solutions and refine project plans. Teams will also be trained in cutting-edge innovation techniques, receive facilitation support and network with their cohort peers.

Following the bootcamp, they will present their solution at a pitch event to be placed in the running to receive the Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa, up to US$250,000 and tailored support through a sprint programme.

Learn more about the finalists who will represent the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda in the Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa bootcamp.

Amini

Amini trains models and provide insights into deforestation, regenerative agriculture and more. | Photo: Amini

Amini addresses Africa’s critical data scarcity that impacts agriculture and hinders efforts to minimize post-harvest losses and adopt sustainable practices. The venture provides highly accurate end-to-end data aggregation and analysis for diverse land at scale, leveraging real-time satellite imagery, existing data maps and client data. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Amini measures crop conditions, water stress, soil moisture and more. To commercialize this technology, Amini built an Application Programming Interface (API) that can be integrated with various institutions such as banks, insurance companies and governmental entities, providing them with high-quality data for better assessments and planning. The same data also benefits farmers, who receive insights to improve yields (incomes) via a smart SMS system for free.

Karpolax

Behind the scenes of the development of the Karpolax sachet. | Photo: Karpolax/Sandra Namboozo

Karpolax addresses the global challenge of post-harvest losses in the agricultural sector by leveraging green nanotechnology to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Karpolax has developed sachets containing polymers which diminish the natural degradation of fruits. The sachets work by inhibiting the release of the enzyme Phospholipase D which is responsible for senescence (deterioration with age). Adding a sachet to a box of fruit helps the produce to stay fresh longer and can maintain nutrient quality for up to 33 days. These polymers are made naturally and the relevant ratios are patented in Uganda.

Karpolax uses different sachets for different fruits. So far they work with mangos, bananas, oranges and berries, and are working on developing sachets for tomatoes and avocados.

FRESH Networks

Young mother dispensing safe milk they can afford from their local FRESH Point. | Photo: KOKO Networks/Graham Benton

Most of the 3.8 million low-income urban households in Kenya buy loose milk from informal retailers in their neighbourhoods, as packaged milk typically costs 30–40 percent more. These loose milk channels are unregulated and the supply is untraceable, putting consumers at risk of milk-borne health hazards or forgoing a vital source of nutrition, especially for children.

FRESH Networks offers low-income urban Kenyans safe and high-quality milk at affordable prices via a network of smart milk dispensers supported by an IoT-enabled supply chain. FRESH Networks sources pasteurized milk from reliable dairy companies and transports it to automated milk dispensers located in micro-retailer partners’ shops in lower-income neighbourhoods. Customers can buy any amount of milk using a digital token system. All inventory, payment and logistics data is tracked via the Fresh Networks cloud system, maximizing quality, availability and affordability for consumers, and efficiency and reach for dairies.

Jokalante

Jokalante addresses the challenge of limited information access for rural Senegalese farmers, exacerbated by underdeveloped digital infrastructure and low French literacy rates. By democratizing access to climate and market data, the platform aims to strengthen local food value chains through tailored communication. With over 70 percent of the population engaged in agriculture and 95 percent of farms being smallholdings, Jokalante seeks to provide all Senegalese farmers with vital data in six native languages for informed decision-making. Jokalante offers a robust web-based software as a service (SAAS) platform which offers a suite of packages to public or private sector partners based on their requirements. The tools they offer facilitate direct and effective connection with highly remote populations across all 14 sectors in their own languages.

ChipChip.Social

ChipChip aims to empower African farmers who struggle to profit from their yields without stronger market access. | Photo: ChipChip/Bonsa Abdi

Long and fragmented agricultural supply chains cause inefficiencies, volatility and inflated prices that impact smallholder farmers, food businesses and urban consumers in Ethiopia.

ChipChip optimizes the supply chain from farm to consumer. Firstly, it utilizes a “social/group buying” model, aggregating demand to enable smallholder farmers to sell bulk agri-foods directly to consumers at discounts of over 20 percent. Secondly, by leveraging its mobile app, ChipChip matches orders with gig drivers for fast delivery to buyers, significantly reducing warehouse and logistics costs. This innovative approach fosters producer-consumer linkages, decreases costs for households, creates jobs and unlocks value along agricultural supply chains.

Solerchil

Solerchil technologies uses an AI chatbot to rent and sell solar powered coldrooms to farmers, vendors and retailers. | Photo: Solerchil Technologies

Solerchil is a venture that manufactures, rents out and sells solar-powered cold rooms to organized groups of food market vendors, farmers and food dealers to help them safely preserve their unsold food.

Members of groups who purchased or rented the cold room can store their unsold food and have the option to upload expiring food onto Solerchil’s chatbot. Buyers interested in purchasing healthy, nearly expired food can then place orders for any quantity, after which the seller either delivers it directly or the buyer collects it from the seller.

MamaPesa

MamaPesa uses AI to offer savings and credit products to financially marginalized women. | Photo: Dukatech Solutions/MamaPesa

MamaPesa is a financial inclusion mobile app technology enabling the participation of women in agriculture and food production by providing access to financing for farm inputs and inventory, as well as climate-smart equipment and machinery. It establishes direct connections between women entrepreneurs and an extensive network of manufacturers, wholesalers and key suppliers. This enables Mama Pesa to deliver personalized smart asset matching, complete with affordable saving plans, loan options and payment schedules. MamaPesa’s innovation lies in its unique combination of AI, financial inclusion and rural accessibility. Unlike traditional loan models that often exclude women due to a lack of collateral or formal documentation, MamaPesa leverages technology to create a more inclusive and flexible system. The USSD platform further sets them apart, ensuring no woman is left out due to limitations in technology access.

Grow for Me

Giving women smallholder farmers access to input financing via USSD technology. | Photo: GrowForMe/Kofijoy

Grow For Me developed a crowdfunding platform that connects investors with specific farms or commodities. Leveraging a Micro Aggregator Platform with USSD technology, Grow For Me facilitates commodity aggregation, trading and instant payment. This ensures fair prices for farmers, reduces post-harvest losses and streamlines the trading process.

Their innovative approach relies on the use of technology like satellite images to track farms for investors, and a USSD platform which makes it easy for anyone with a mobile phone to join. Unlike other platforms, they don’t own farms or warehouses, making them asset-light and cost-effective for scalability.

Kivu Green

KivuGreen uses an AI-equipped platform to connect small farmers to markets and agricultural information with or without internet connection. | Photo: KIVUGREEN CORP/Bamjon Johnny Mikolay

KivuGreen is a solution solving the challenge of small-scale farmers’ limited access to agricultural markets and information in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The platform uses AI to provide real-time information on weather, market prices and farming advice via mobile phones.

It leverages USSD technology to enable farmers access to data without internet connection, and voice technology in local languages to provide essential information for illiterate farmers.

By using common SMS technologies and telephone calls, KivuGreen is considered a low-cost solution facilitating large-scale implementation.

Learn more about the Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa.

Discover how we sourced these innovations for the programme and meet the first edition’s cohort.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP colleagues, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies, and non-governmental organisations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support, and WFP’s global operations.

Find out more about us: http://innovation.wfp.org
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WFP Innovation Accelerator

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.