Category: Department of State

The Next Green Revolution: Is There An App for That?

This panel discussion was recorded at the Future Tense event: Feeding the World While the Earth Cooks, which was held in Washington, DC on April 12th, 2012

Lynn Roche - @apps4africa, Planning and Coordination Officer, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Office Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Moderator: Charles Kenny - @charlesjkenny, Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow, New America Foundation, Author “Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding — And How We Can Improve the World Even More”

When today’s toddlers are parents themselves, they will face an agricultural crisis. The world population will reach 9 billion. A growing global middle class will demand more food. And climate change will leave farmers holding seeds that won’t sprout. By 2050, will our global appetite outgrow our agricultural capacity? We held an event to find out how everyone—growers, technologists, governments, business leaders, and carbon-conscious consumers—will be part of the solution.

East Africa Winners Announced At Villages In Action 2012

Congratulations to the these 3 teams who won the Eastern Africa portion of the Apps4Africa 2-11: Climate Challenge.

1st prize of $15,000 - The Grainy Bunch by Eric Mutta (Tanzania)
The Grainy Bunch is a national grain supply chain management system that monitors the purchase, storage, distribution, and consumption of grain across the entire nation. It was developed with the understanding that selling “the effects of efficiency” to actors in the grain supply chain is much easier than selling “the effects of climate change”.

Grain is nicknamed the “white oil” which lubricates the engine of Tanzanian growth. Even short-term disturbances in its supply chain adversely affects hundreds of thousands of people. To ensure both food security and economic security for all Tanzanians, a system is required to both monitor and facilitate the supply chain of grain, from the soil to our plates.

2nd prize of $7,000 - Mkulima Bora - Stepheno Maleche, Gerry Nandwa, Joseph Onginjo and Oliver Otieno (Kenya)
Mkulima Bora enables farmers to input the type crop they wish to plant into an app, then it cross-checks meteorological data to determine if the crop is suitable given the timing and location. Mkulima improves farmer yields, saves them time, and money

3rd Prize of $3,000 - Agro Universe - Oliama Brian, Daniel Mumbere, Nabuto Josephine, Bossa Alex, Sanya Duncan, Olwenyi Victor, Kato Charles, Masaba Kizito, Kalema Moses, Namuyiga Winfrey (Uganda)
Agro Universe allows farmers with agriculture products or livestock to alert the app’s community so that they can buy and sell goods from each other. It works on both mobile and the web. The aim of Agro Universe is to create a regional marketplace where products can be sold that may have no demand in the user’s immediate area but that might in areas farther out.

Honorable Mentions

CoHeW - Geno Juma, Nicholas Mugah
The CoHeW program is designed as an aid to the community health worker (CHWs). The program will have a two pronged approach; it gives stop gap solutions to the respondent and serves as an information gathering tool for the CHWs. The ministry of health and other health administration planners need a source of information on likely occurrences of diseases and projected disease outbreak periods.

AgriRight (Plant it Right) - Nyambura Muhia, Wamahiga Grace, Njeri Winnie, Harun Mwangi
AgriRight is a mobile app that helps farmers plant crops that are right for a particular area.Many farmers, plant crops which are not sustainable for a particular area, which leads to a waste of resources (time, money, energy). They often incur huge losses, reaping very little or no crops at all.

Water Hacking at the World Bank

Apps4Africa is excited to participate in the World Bank’s Water Hackathon today!

Can a new set of brains bring a new set of solutions to water problems? Water is at the heart of some of the world’s most pressing development challenges. For example:

- human development: diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and TB combined.
- energy security: hydropower is the only renewable energy source currently deployed at scale
- food security: agriculture will face increasingly powerful demands to allocate water to urban, industrial and environmental services.
- urban development: droughts and floods will grow more intense and frequent in cities.

Experts in traditional water disciplines such as sanitation, irrigation, dams and urban water will continue their work. But there is a need for non-traditional approaches. Are we really taking full advantage of now-ubiquitous mobile phones, mobile internet access and social media tools to transform inclusion, citizen participation and transparency in water management and water services?

Are we using open data to full practical advantage in this, one of the world’s great, pressing problems.

In search of non-traditional solutions to water problems, the World Bank is launching WaterHackathon. From Oct 21-23, 2011, software developers and designers will team up with water experts to create new tools for solving water problems. WaterHackathon will take place simultaneously at multiple locations, including Nairobi, Cairo, Bangalore, London, Kampala, Tel Aviv, and Washington DC. They’ll be “techie” events, but the techies need water people to help them. The help they need is for water people to pose the problem. In fact, the more water people participate the more good useable solutions will get developed.

If you work in water, inside or outside the Bank group you can get involved. For an hour or a weekend. Start by asking yourself: “What information do I wish I had?” For example, I wish I knew whether the water point down the road was working today. There’s an app for that. I wish I knew whether my irrigation pump is on. There’s an app for that too. Conversely, if you sit on a lot of data, ask yourself, “What information do I have that others might need?” For example, my country’s weather station is far more accurate than satellite data but no one has access to it. That’s an app we’re working on.

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.

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

State Department Apps 4 Africa Webchat

Philip Thigo, Jon Gosier (@jongos) and Josh Goldstein (@african_minute), three of the Apps 4 Africa coordinators, will participate in the State Department’s text-only webchat on Friday July 9th at 13:00 GMT at  Join them to discuss why Apps 4 Africa matters in the East African tech scene, how citizens, mentors and developers can participate, and the bit of fame and fortune forthcoming to the contest winners. See you there!