Archive | East Africa RSS feed for this section

Apps4Africa By the Numbers

6 Apr

Director of Apps4Africa, Jon Gosier, delivered the following presentation about the history of Apps4Africa yesterday in Accra.

In the presentation he revealed numbers related to the 2011 Apps4Africa competition. 250 apps entered by Africa innovators. 32 mentors who helped them in their application process. Over 20 events held for nearly 2,000 people in 15+ countries. With $75,000 awarded to 9 winners!

Apps4Africa Winners Honored at TEDxChange in Accra

6 Apr

On April 5th, 2012 all but one of this years Apps4Africa winners were honored at TEDxAccra at the Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in ICT. Other speakers included SpotOne Global Director Marieme Jamme, Mayor of Accra Alfred Vanderpuiye, Apps4Africa Director and TED Senior Fellow Jon Gosier, University of Ghana Senior Lecturer Professor Chris Gordon, Mpedigree inventor and Ashoka Fellow Bright Simmons, Google Africa staffer Ato Ulzen-Appiah, and ThoughtWorks Inc. founder Neville Roy Singham to name a few.

Victor Ogo Ekwueme (Winner of the West Africa $15,000 1st prize) delivered a white paper on his winning entry Hospital Manager, which uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to forecast hospital needs based on weather patterns. Assane Seck (winner of the West Africa $7,000 2nd Prize) presented his project Eco-fund Forum which is a geo-localized web community that helps individuals and communities working on sustainable resource management throughout Africa to share their experiences and best practices. Mkulima Bora was presented by Gerry Nadwa (winner of the East Africa $7,000 2nd Prize). Mkulima Bora uses geo-location features and a database of agricultural facts to alert users as to which types of actions they need to take to improve farming results based on where they are. Sanya Duncan (winner of the East Africa $3,000 3rd prize) delivered his speech on Agro Universe. 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. Alloysius Attah (winner of the West Africa $3,000 3rd prize) delivered a passionate talk about Farmerline, a mobile and web-based system that furnishes farmers and investors with relevant agricultural information to improve productivity and increase income.  The Farmerline team also recently won the Mobile Web Ghana apps competition.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the impassioned congratulatory message Mayor Vanderpuiye gave to Ghanian winner Alloysius Attah for the subsequent success of Farmerline. In life “everywhere there are challenges, there are opportunities”, Mayor Vanderpuiye said as he thanked the young innovators of Apps4Africa for their collective ability to find opportunities in the challenges their respective countries face.

The day culminated with two simulcast presentations from TEDxChange in Berlin, Germany where the Bill and Melinda Gates organized TEDxChange was being held. The first was the moving performance by Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, the second an emotional talk about contraception and family planning by Melinda Gates.

East Africa Winners Announced At Villages In Action 2012

14 Jan

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.

How to Ace an App Competition

30 Dec

As we close out 2011 and the first half of the Apps4Africa competition, we thought we’d share some tips for those of you planning to enter the South Africa competition next year. This can also serve as advice for those of you who’ve already participated and who we hope will participate in other competitions in the future.

Our advice for people looking to do everything they can to excel in an app competition like our own…

1. Read the rules.

This competition is called “Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge” any app submitted that failed to even attempt to address climate change and adaptation was immediately disqualified.

2. Solve a tough problem.

A lot of apps were entered that had similar descriptions. This in and of itself is not a problem, it’s inevitable given that people approach problems from the same perspective or spot the same needs. However, it never hurts to stand out by attempting to solve a problem that fewer people are likely to think of or event attempt to solve.

One way to do this is to look at the systems put in place by governments or NGOs in your country, and improve upon them with services that circumvent or augment them. Not everything has to be started from scratch.

3. Build something or do something.

Everyone has opinions on how to fix things, few people ever do anything about it. Ideas are great, we encourage them, but this competition is called Apps4Africa for a reason. To win without a software application just means you need to have a very detailed, well thought out plan of action. I’m not going to lie, it’s a long shot but exceptional ideas are still exceptional ideas. But what’s better than a plan of action? Action.

We look favorably upon the participants who take action.

4. Pay close attention to detail on your entry form.

Misspelling your email address or website can be disastrous. If we need to get in touch with you to ask questions, or we need to evaluate your web application, we can’t do it.

5. Study previous winning projects.

While it would be a mistake to copy verbatim someone else’s idea, simply looking at the applicants who’ve succeeded in the past may spark ideas on how to approach your particular project. Draw inspiration from them.

6. Ask an Expert.

Say you don’t know a lot about the subject matter (in this case climate change). Perhaps you have a professor or family member who has a better understanding. If not, you can ask us to pair you with a mentor. We do our best to do this anyways but making the request ensures that you’re on our minds when going through the matching process.

7. Talk to people.

If you aren’t aware of any climate change problems, get out and talk to the people around you who might experience them daily. For instance, speak to the local NGOs staff who respond to flooding or drought and ask them what tool or app would make their jobs easier.

8. Lose gracefully.

Everyone likes to win, no one likes to use. Pretty much the whole world will agree with that statement. That said, we all lose something at sometime. It’s not the end of the world and it certainly doesn’t mean your talents and ideas aren’t valid. Most importantly, keep pursuing your project! If you’re solving a real problem, that problem hasn’t gone away because of this competition. There are always future opportunities.

One Africa, One Climate, One Challenge

2 Dec

As the West Africa Challenge comes to a close, we wanted to share this short video message with you! The competition isn’t over for everyone, if you live in East or Southern Africa you can still submit your applications!

Spotlight on Apps4Africa Dar es Salaam brainstorming

15 Nov

The Tanzania brainstorming session took place at the newly opened TanzICT ( in the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology in Dar es Salaam.

It got off to a slow start because of an uncharacteristic downpour that let off enough to let the participants make it out to the venue and then kept on for the rest of the day. Regardless, we had a good crowd come out and heard from some very interesting speakers.

Prof. Adolpho Mascarenhas encouraged us to look at climate change with an open mind, not only as a problem but also as an opportunity for African solutions to take center stage. He encouraged to be curious, to ask questions and in gettting answers tailor the solutions we need to the problems we face. He also reminded the participants that in finding these solutions, in building the right solution, one must not forget the economic equation.

Mr. Yassin Mkwizu, a PHD student specialising in climate change talked about opportunities in the field and how the effects are affecting livelihoods in East African communities. He pointed out the pillars of climate change as being; its science, adaptation and mitigation and about how we as humans are built to adapt and we can do just that to mitigate the effects of climate change on our communities. He ended by reminding the attendees that creating a solution is all well and good but that solution needs to connect to the people that are going to use it.

Ms. Khairoon Abbas talked specifically about climate change and the youth and had a very well crafted presentation to get her point across to the mostly youthful participants. She showed all of us how to work towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. “If everyone lived like the average American, we would need 5 planets,” is one of the eye opening statements in her presentation that was designed to bring youth back to the basics reminding us that you don’t need to own more than one cell phone, you don’t need to have the latest fashion trend because everything has a ‘life cycle’. In purchasing, she encouraged us to consider the life cycle of the product from it’s inception to reaching you, how much energy has been expended to get you a plastic mineral water bottle, then re-consider whether you need to purchase it.

The session ended with the participants abuzz with ideas for applications over a shared meal of mobile shawarmas.

Look through the pictures here

and here

inSight Solutions Advisory to Provide Strategic Advice to A4A Participants

12 Nov

inSight Solutions Advisory, LLC selected to work with top applicants for the Apps 4 Africa 2011: Climate Challenge event, which since 2009 has combined individuals and companies in encouraging, identifying and rewarding local innovators for their ideas and project. inSight will provide strategic and financial advice to those start-ups with winning business models in Western, Central and East and Southern Africa. inSight’s partners will work closely with a select group of participants in sharpening business plans and attracting capital from interested parties.

“The Apps 4 Africa 2011 event is an exciting initiative, incentivizing all the right elements in a society-from entrepreneurs tinvestors to multinationals always on the lookout for the next big thing-that lead to long-term and innovation-led growth in that society,” said Jesse Hollander, Managing Partner at inSight.

Challenge partners, including TED Conferences and Indigo Trust, may contribute technical assistance, prizes, and follow-on support for the new applications created by this competition. Apps4Africa began in late 2009 when several individuals and companies joined together to propose a competition that would reward local innovators for their ideas and projects. The 2010 challenge winners received prize money, media attention, and a special congratulatory message from Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This year’s climate focus centers around several strategic themes that coincide with policy decisions that will be debated and decided upon by world leaders at the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) conference in Durban, South Africa. The benefit of this is that it increases the chance that competition participants will find very eager decision makers eager to try, recommend, and otherwise support the applications and projects developed for the competition

Cloudmine’s Platform makes Mobile Apps Easier to Build

7 Nov

Cloudmine, a promising tech startup and A4A partner, is offering its platform and APIs to Apps4Africa entrants. Cloudmine takes the pain out of building mobile applications, which will hopefully make entering the competition easier for teams who have big ideas, but lack technical participants.

Description from the their website:

CloudMine is a platform that eliminates the need for mobile app developers to build custom backend solutions for their mobile apps. Development of server-side components is expensive, repetitive, and distracts from perfecting your app. Let us handle it so you can focus on making your app awesome.

More information about their platform:

The data model you create for your mobile app is central to the proper functioning of your app. The naturally iterative cycle of software development encourages you to change your data model whenever you need, and we don’t get in your way. Just translate your data into JSON and send it to us. We’ll do the rest. Getting it back from us is even easier. We never freeze your data model or force you to define it up front

Need to create user accounts? Do your users generate content within your app that you need to store on CloudMine? We do that, too. All passwords are securely stored. Just tell us which user to link any object to and we’ll take care of the rest. You don’t even need to mess with OAuth.

Our beefy servers are well suited for running code that is too computationally intense to run on a mobile device. Just write a snippet of code that does what you need, give it to us, and tell us when to run it. We can even run code asynchronously. The only way it could be any easier is if we wrote the code for you.

If you’d like to use Cloudmine’s platform in your application, visit their website at or get in touch using the following:
@McCorkley, @marcweil, @ilybr

Climate-Smart Agriculture

31 Oct

Apps4Africa was at the recently concluded Climate-Smart Agriculture Workshop hosted by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme that took place in Nairobi from the 24th to the 27th of November, 2011. The workshop intended for the attendees to have enhanced knowledge about climate-smart agriculture and implement these lessons in their own contexts. Apps4Africa was there to see if any of these plans would be made easier with applications that entrants into the competition could design.

We attended the Gallery Walk portion of the workshop where each country gave a 20 minute presentation on the challenges facing them that are caused by climate change and how they are going to use climate-smart agriculture techniques to adapt to the climate change challenges.

The one challenge that was evident across all the countries was a dissemination of information on climate-smart practices to the people who actually need to implement them or a general lack of knowledge on the implications of certain practices in the context of the changing climate.

All the people there were really excited and motivated and since many of them were representatives from their government’s Ministries of Environment, there is a lot of support in these circles for applications that would help them implement climate-smart agriculture.

This is your cue, developers, build applications and enter them into the competition knowing you don’t only win awesome prizes but that your application will have a market and will be put to good use.

New Data Source: SERVIR

17 Oct

We’ve added a new source for information, SERVIR, to our dataset page:

SERVIR integrates satellite observations and predictive models with other geographic information (sensor and field-based) to monitor and forecast ecological changes and respond to natural disasters. This evolving regional visualization and monitoring platform has been established in East Africa to improve scientific knowledge and decision-making in a range of application areas (e.g., biodiversity conservation, disaster management, agricultural development, climate change adaptation, etc.).

Find more datasets to use for this contest at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,176 other followers