The Social Media Awards Africa has formally announced the close of the voting window for the continent-wide initiative on social media development, #SMAA2014 and the new event dates for the Summit and Awards tagged, ‘Night of Virtual Wonders’ which is now billed to hold in Lagos, Nigeria on Friday through Saturday, January 23 and 24, 2015.

The voting phase is part of the process leading to the emergence of 15 Finalists for the 4 Categories and 15 Awards for the maiden edition of the Social Media Awards Africa – a premier continental initiative which seeks to recognize and reward creativity, excellence and impact in the usage of social media across Africa.

With the theme: “Social Media for Governance, Leadership and Development,” the award summit will hold on January 23, 2015 and bring together social media influencers, experts, enthusiast and policy makers in exploring and forging new developmental paths for Africa.

In what turned out to be a ‘quest’ for social media dominance, individuals and brands rallied for votes in various languages and using different strategies to deliver a unique engagement and increase in interaction, traffic to initiatives and networking across platforms. The SMAA secretariat also expressed its commitment to ensuring that the new connections are solidified through well-engaging events that will involve a large spectrum of the brands and individuals active on social media in line with the SMAA vision to build sustainable socio-economic and political development in Africa.

In a review of the voting phase which spanned 20 Days; SMAA recorded impressive statistics. According to the Conveners, “The highest day reach on Twitter was 13.8 million. Apart from Twitter, SMAA has active presence on 15 out of 22 social media platforms, reaching several millions of Africans.”

After the voting phase, the Jury which comprises of Fred Swaniker, Founder & Ex. Chairman, African Leadership Academy, Ken Banks, Founder, kiwanja.net, Abubakar Suleiman, Executive Director, Strategy & Finance, Sterling Bank Plc., Ryan Silberman, Chief Operating Officer, Popimedia, South Africa, amongst others; will judge the entries using the following criteria: Influence, Creativity, Scalability, Originality and Impact. Nominations were made for a 27-day period for 15 awards across four categories: Personality, Platform-Specific, Indigenous and Institutional. The nominees votes account for Fifty per cent (50%) of the cumulative scores and Jury scores account for the remaining Fifty per cent (50%).

According to the Group Head, Strategy and Communications, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Shina Atilola “The level of interest and participation has been very heart-warming and the organisers must be commended for a job well done. We at Sterling Bank would continue to provide the required support to aid the achievement of the objectives of the Award.”

Project Lead, Femi Aderibigbe; expressed delight that the Social Media Awards Africa 2014, had since its launch on September 30, 2014 expanded both inside and outside of Africa. “The awards have trended globally and became the second most talked about subject on Twitter in Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States. During the same period, the SMAA website has climbed to the 535th website in Kenya and 703rd in Nigeria amongst other statistics accrued on national virtual spaces,” he said.

The Social Media Awards Africa is sponsored by Sterling Bank Plc. AIESEC Africa, West African NGO Network (WANGONET), Beat FM, Fan Milk Nigeria, Zisat, Trace TV and African Media Initiative (AMI)  are also Partners.