Cape Town - Internet giant Google has launched a programme to reward successful online ventures in Africa.
The company announced on Tuesday that its programme, Africa Connected: Success stories powered by the web, will pay prize money of $25 000 to five Africans who have demonstrated a successful online venture on the continent.
"Google wants to hear from young, spirited entrepreneurial web adopters in sub-Saharan Africa who have a healthy disregard for the impossible and who are using the web and technology to do cool and extraordinary things to rise above their circumstances, change their world, and achieve success," said Affiong Osuchukwu, Google lead for the Africa Connected programme.
Africa is widely regarded as the next high-growth emerging market after Asia and Latin America.
With an estimated population of around one billion people, internet penetration in Africa stands at about 15.6%, les than half of the global average of 34.3%. However, actual internet users are a low as between 5% and 7%.
South Africans make up the majority of internet on the continent, though small countries like the Seychelles and Mauritius have internet penetration rates of 39% and 27% respectively.
"In the next five years, seven out of the world's 10 fastest growing economies are predicted to be in Africa, and the internet is playing an important part in this," Google said.
The company named South African Mdu Ntuli as an example of the kind of person that might be eligible for the award.
"He [Ntuli] now owns a successful YouTube channel showcasing his animated films, some of which feature isiZulu and Xhosa content - two of these were amongst South Africa’s top viewed videos of 2012," said Google.
"Whether you are in technology, agriculture, energy, fashion, education, or entertainment, if the web has transformed your life, and you believe your venture can be scaled up, then the judging panel is looking forward to hearing your story," said South African judge, advocate Leslie Sedibe, CEO of Proudly South African.
Google said that submissions for the competition opened on Tuesday until 11 October 2013. The winners will be announced in February 2014.
The competition is supported by the SABC and the City Press.