Category: Civic Challenge

A4A2010 Winner iCow Launches Partnership with Safaricom

Su Kahumbu and the team behind Apps4Africa 2010 Winner iCow announced a new partnership with Kenya’s largest mobile telecom provider, Safaricom. The partnership will help iCow distribute its app to the 19 million people Safaricom’s network reaches everyday in Kenya. As part of the deal iCow is also being supported by a locally renown advertising firm and business consultants.

Su and iCow were winners of the inaugural Apps4Africa competition in 2010, the Civic Challenge, and have set the high standard of success that many other winners like Farmerline (2011 Winners) and SliceBiz (2012 Winners) have followed. iCow recently won the Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Award, was selected as a finalist in the Innovation Prize for Africa, and was named Best African Mobile App by Forbes Magazine. Founder, Su recently also gave this TEDTalk about her work:

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore had this to say of the partnership, “Safaricom supports innovation across all sectors…and agriculture is one of the most important sectors in Kenya. This innovation will definitely move agriculture forward and Safaricom is happy to be involved in the development of this sector.”

Open Database of Apps4Africa Winners

We’re frequently asked to share the contact details and other information about the Apps4Africa winners and their various projects. We’ve been offering these details to various interested parties on request but obviously, as demand increases for this information, it gets harder to meet all requests. Today we’re releasing a public listing of all the winners of funding from our competitions to date! Keep checking back as we improve this page by adding details about each project, what the winners are doing now, and what they accomplished post-A4A!

In this archive you’ll find participant email addresses, team participants, names, and descriptions of their various projects.

View the Database

African Social Networks Thrive in a Mobile Culture

Article on the ambitions of 2010 Apps4Africa winner iCow.


New and fast-growing mobile social networks could challenge Facebook’s growth on the continent.

When young maize crops began failing in parts of Kenya earlier this month, the bad news—as well as information about where farmers could get seeds for other crops—spread on many Internet sites, including Facebook, which has 38 million users in Africa.

But it was a mobile platform called iCow—which allows 11,000 farmers and other members to receive livestock-management and other agricultural information—that helped cover the crucial “last mile” to older farmers. When a message from iCow passed along a tip already posted on Facebook about disease-free seeds available from the Kenya Agri Research Institution, that institution was, within two hours, besieged with hundreds of calls.

“Facebook has got the younger farmers on it, and iCow has the older farmers on it. We can bridge that gap to the older farmers who don’t have access to Facebook and don’t use the Internet,” said Su Kahumbu, the founder of iCow.

The episode is a reminder of the limits of Facebook, and of the role that small, mobile platforms and mobile-focused social networks can play, especially in the mobile-centric and culturally and ethnically nuanced African market.

via African Social Networks Thrive in a Mobile Culture - Technology Review.

Secretary Clinton Congratulates Apps4Africa Winners!

Secretary Clinton Congratulates Winners of First Apps4Africa Competition

Video message is available here:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today congratulated the winners of the first Apps4Africa competition, which brought together local technology entrepreneurs to build tools that serve the needs of local Non-Governmental Organizations and their communities. “Your work to develop 21st century solutions to Africa’s challenges is a powerful example of what individuals can do to shape a dynamic, successful future,” Secretary Clinton said in a video message.

Launched in July 2010, in Nairobi, Kenya by Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale, Apps4Africa generated more than 20 entries from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. Civil society groups and citizens challenged program developers to find innovative technological solutions to everyday problems on issues ranging from transparency and governance to health and education. The competition builds on Secretary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative and helps civil society use digital technology to connect to their communities and develop innovative solutions to shared problems. Key private sector partners include iHub, Appfrica Labs, and SODNET.

A panel of judges chose winning projects based on their potential to have a measurable impact and their creativity and ingenuity. A full list of winners and prizes follows:

First Place: iCow, a voice-based mobile application that helps farmers track the estrus stages of their cows. This application can enable farmers everywhere to better manage breeding periods as well as monitor cow nutrition leading up to the calving day. This will help farmers get the most of their cows and their farms. From Kenya, Charles Kithika is the first place winner receiving $5,000 and an Apple iPad.

Second Place: Kleptocracy Fighters Inc. allows citizens to record and report real time information on government corruption. Reports can include: audio, video, text, and are meant to be both positive and negative. Reports will be forwarded to legal and media partners to help publish cases of corruption. This application has potential to help build trust, accountability and transparency around the world. The second place winners received $3,000 USD and a Nokia N900.

Third Place Winner: Mamakiba is a patient-facing SMS savings calculator and prepayment tracking tool specifically designed to help low-income women save and prepay for their maternal health needs such as ante-natal care and clinical delivery. Many women struggle financially, and this application can help teach the value of budget planning and provide lifesaving care for women and their families. Jane Del Sur, Geoffrey Muthondy , John Wesonga jointly developed “Mamakiba”, our third place winner receives and shares $2,000 and a Sprint HTC Desire.

Honorable Mentions each received $200 and are as follows:

Fogs Funeral Announcements, developed by Alex Gitonga, is an application for generating death and funeral announcements via text message. Radio and newspaper are costly in the region. Fog will allow users cheaply and easily to draft, edit and send these types of messages to ensure they reach friends, family, former schoolmates and colleagues – an important Kenyan custom.

Kenya Constituency Development Fund: Community Tracking and Mapping was developed by Jamila Amin and Mikel Maron. This application allows Kenyans to easily view both official and on-the-ground details of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects that are ongoing in Kibera, a neighborhood of Nairobi and the world’s second largest slum. This application will review and map submitted reports on the real status of aid and development projects on the ground, in contrast to official government reports, as well as allocated amounts, contractor details, photographs, and geographic locations. This evidence-based monitoring, combined with the communication power of maps and the web, serves as a powerful advocacy tool for improved accountability of development funds in Kenya.

Ujuzi was developed by Ahmed Mohamed Maawy as a mobile resource locator application aimed at helping low-income populations living in poor areas worldwide to locate useful resources like organizations, services, assets, and personnel in their region. This free service has huge potential because it takes readily available information and creatively provides it in a useful, easy-to-access way.

Apps4Africa is the first in a series of regional competitions that the State Department will help convene, host, and connect in Africa.

Announcing Great Prizes and a 24 Hour Hack-a-Thon

Do you have what it takes to build East Africa’s top apps? Winners of the Apps4Africa contest will receive cash and some fantastic gadgets.

1st place- 5000 USD and an iPad
2nd place - 3000 USD and a Nokia N900
3rd place - 2000 USD and a Sprint HTC Desire

Runners up will also win great prizes.  Winners will also get a bit of fame with their fortune, including being honored at an awards ceremony in Nairobi in late September featuring tech and civil society luminaries, as well as invitations to other exclusive events throughout the region.

Are you ready to turn great ideas into great apps? If you are in Nairobi, then join us this Saturday at 6PM at the iHub Nairobi for the Apps4Africa 24 hour hackathon! Stay tuned for other great hack-a-thons throughout the region.

Remember, you can submit code and supporting documentation for your apps before August 31st at [email protected]. More information on the FAQ page.

One Month Left To Submit Apps!

As we round the corner into the final month of Apps4Africa, competition for the top prizes promises to be fierce. In Kigali last week, with the fantastic support of Norwegian Peoples Aid, we had one of our best events yet. Over forty Rwandans, representing the mobile and web industries, energetic students from Kigali Institute for Science and Technology (KIST), and leaders from transparency and grassroots advocacy organizations, came together to brainstorm how digital tools can improve the lives of the people of Rwanda.

The event in Kigali wraps up a busy July, which also saw an Apps4Africa events in Kampala at the Hive, and a launch in Nairobi at the iHub featuring U.S. Ambassador Michael Rannenberger and Under-Secretary of State Judith McHale. Based on the commitment and energy shown at these events, and the immense level of participation on the website, we have no doubt that this contest will generate great apps that help solve some of the region’s big challenges.

To ensure that great ideas become great apps, around the week of August 21st (exact dates forthcoming) we will hold a series of hack-a-thons throughout the region. These day long events will give technologist an opportunity to build, tweek and submit their best apps. Remember, submissions must take place before August 31st to be considered for 15,000 USD in cash and prizes, as well as the chance to meet leading tech and civil society luminaries at an awards ceremony in September.  Check out the Idea Board and the Collabo Page for inspiration and contacts. We hope you join us!

Join Us on July 27th for Apps4Africa Rwanda

Join us next week in Kigali, Rwanda, for the Apps4Africa event launch. The event, similar to our fantastic recent activities in Nairobi and Kampala, will bring together leaders from technology and civil society to discuss the state of social tech in Rwanda, and discuss how Apps4Africa can catalyze new innovations.

This half-day event will take place on Tuesday, July 27th from 9:30AM to around 1PM at Ebenezer House, Kacyiru, in the UNICEF meeting room on the 5th floor. Representatives from the tech community, civil society, government and media are welcome to attend.

If you’d like to join us, RSVP at [email protected]

Why Apps4Africa?

Find out the answer to this and more at a State Department webchat with Bruce Wharton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of African Affairs, and Elana Berkowitz, Innovation Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of State.

Details below:

This live video webchat will take place today, July 23rd at 9:30 AM EDT/ 13:30 GMT at Participants Elana Berkowitz and Bruce Wharton from the State Department will talk about the “Apps4Africa” program, which is a contest bringing tech savvy Africans together with African civil society to leverage the power of digital technology to make a better world. The challenge is to build the best digital tools to address community challenges in many different areas, from healthcare to election monitoring. Come join us to participate, ask questions, and learn more about Apps4Africa. Go to for more information on the contest.

How to participate:

  1. Click this link:
  2. Select “Enter as a Guest.”
  3. Type your name. If you are participating from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, please type the name of your Embassy and then your name. (For example: U.S. Embassy Moscow - Irina).
  4. Select “Enter Room.”
  5. Explore the content in the room and submit questions and comments.

We accept questions at any time, but we strongly suggest you submit questions in advance of the program.
Once successfully submitted, your question will appear in red on your computer screen

Apps4Africa Kampala


The mhealth breakout group hard at work at the Apps4Africa launch in Kampala. More photos here.

Over thirty of Uganda’s leading technology and social movement leaders came together today at the Hive Colab, Kampala’s new collaborative workspace for young tech professionals, to celebrate the Uganda launch of Apps4Africa. The group, composed of education activists, doctors, mobile developers, rural connectivity experts and tech industry leaders, spent two exciting hours discussing the state of social tech in Uganda, and how Apps4Africa can catalyze new innovations in the space.

Here are just a few of the important themes emerged from these conversations. If you are interested in pushing these ideas forward, be in touch at [email protected]

* Vote Duplication Prevention- Governments in the region are working on publishing voter registration databases. Election commissions and authorized election observers should be able to keep a real time tally, geo-located by constituency, of who has voted to ensure that the final tabulation does not exceed the number of votes actually submitted. Such tools could be layered on existing mobile applications to report voter intimidation and fraud.

* Common Data Standards for Operating In-Country- When organizations register to work in a country, they should be required to submit and update data about their operations on a regular basis and in a common data standard. Several organizations operating in rural Uganda are interested in using open source social networks to avoid duplication of efforts and enhance situational awareness.

* Using Maps Without Internet Access- There was much discussion of Map Kibera, a grassroots-led effort to create high-quality, free and accessible maps for marginalized communities. Some, however, were interested in applications that would allow organizations operating in rural areas to access and put to use such maps without internet access.

When discussing the real world challenges facing organizations in the field, we frequently revisited the point that new uses for existing tools are often more effective than entirely new tools. Existing or new, we are excitedly awaiting some fantastic contest submissions!