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Apps 4 Africa: a Contest for African Software Developers

By Jonathan Gosier on July 5, 2010

Over the past few weeks myself, Solomon King of NodeSix.com, Joshua Goldstein an Appfrica Fellow, Jessica Colaco at the iHub in Nairobi, Philip Thigo and John Kipchumbah at SODNET (Social Development Network Kenya), and a number of very dedicated individuals from the United States Department of State have been working behind the scenes to put together a contest for African software developers called Apps < 4 > Africa.

The contest is a collective effort to support some of the many young minds out there working on ideas that would improve quality of life in African countries in ways that can be accomplished through software. In many other countries around the globe, these innovations have come from the bottom as constituents become more engaged with their own communities and representation. African countries are on a trajectory that’s no different.

Thus, it makes a lot of sense that civic minded individuals across the continent may also be turning to technology as a way to get involved. And like entrepreneurs of all types, hopefully it’s encouraging for them to know they’ve got support for their ideas and that their work will be rewarded.

This contest won’t be a silver bullet to any of Africa’s struggles, and none of the apps that come out of this contest will be either, but this competition, the prizes, judges and mentors supporting hopefully represent the type of community that can help a handful of these ideas and apps mature over time.


From July 1st to August 31st, we welcome citizens to submit ideas that technology can help solve, and challenge technologists to build tools that lead to a better world. The top applications will receive cash, cool gadgets, and the chance to hob-nob with our judges panel of technology and civil society luminaries. On Thursday, we are particularly pleased to have Under-Secretary of State Judith McHale join a group of civil society leaders and civic-minded technologist to launch the contest at the *iHub_ in Nairobi.

This is only the beginning. Over the duration of the contest, we will host events around the region that address a variety of technology platforms and activist themes. We’ll also be encouraging collaboration between mentors from around the world and coders in the region. Whether you are a citizen, civil society leader or technologist of any kind, we hope you will join us in the Apps 4 Africa challenge!


Anil Dash (Expert Labs), Nathan Eagle (Txteagle), Thomas Gibian (Investor, ECP), Joe Mucheru (Google), Emeka Orafor (TED), Ory Okolloh (Ushahidi), Tim O’Rielly (O’Reilly), and Rakesh Ranjani (HakiElimu).


The prizes haven’t been announced yet, but I assure you the bounty will be sweet! Several thousand dollars in cash or gadgets for multiple winners. All entrants will use our repository at http://code.apps4africa.org to submit their ideas where they will remain as open source projects that others can either build upon or learn from. The other details like duration of the contest and rules can be found at http://apps4africa.org.

This was original published as Apps for Africa Contest Announced in Nairobi.

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Jonathan Gosier is a UI designer, software developer and writer. He currently lives in Kampala, Uganda where he incubates and invests in East African entrepreneurs as the CEO of Appfrica Labs. He's also a TED Fellow.
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