Hackathon winners look to go commercial
APP DEVELOPMENT| Sept. 6, 2012, 11:04 a.m.
By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe
After winning Zimbabwe’s first Hackathon in July, Prince Kaguda and his partners are looking to commercialise their award winning app by the end of the year.
Kaguda and his fellow developers, Nigel Gambanga, Blessing Bonde and Douglas Chifetete who came up with an application that delivers news via SMS and USSD and with an option for free subscription that is powered by adverts.
“We want to launch the application and commercialise it before the end of the year,” said Chifefete.
He said at the hackathon they chose to develop a mobile app to disseminate media content because of the problems in the dissemination of media content in Zimbabwe.
“Newspapers are not readily available in all corners of the country and although some newspapers are available for free on the Internet the majority of Zimbabweans don't have access to Internet.
“The other thing is even though one might want to read particular stories in the newspaper you are forced to buy the whole newspaper,” said Chifefete.
But with mobile penetration in Zimbabwe standing at 80%, an app that delivers news at little or no cost would likely have a market.
“Every phone can receive SMSs and can interact with USSD applications. Using SMS and USSD in a media app would help increase dissemination of media content in Zimbabwe. If people could pay only for the stories they want to read more people would consider consuming the media content.
Even better, if people could get media content for free or next to nothing, they would be willing to consume it.
“Our solution is for an advert driven mobile news application based on SMS and USSD. A customer browses for news using a USSD menu, when they select a story they want to read. After selecting the story the customer receives the story in 2 or three SMSs. Each story will be appended with an advert. The story will be associated with it and customers use their airtime to pay for the stories. Advertisers pay to have their adverts disseminated through the media application,” said Chifefete.
To operationalise the app, the hackers say they are making modifications to the original application.
“The winning app was created in less than a day and it was a prototype to showcase the concept of the application. To make this app scalable for the bigger market we are redesigning and redeveloping the application using industry best standards and we will deploy the application to a cluster of servers to enable it to handle heavy loads and minimise downtime.”
Alpha Media Holdings, who sponsored the Hackathon, said the winning app had a chance of being adopted and used across its media platforms.
Chifefete said the intended to finish the app’s development by end of this month and finish acceptance tests by 31 October but would added that the launch date would depend on their partners.
“We are targeting all mobile users through an easy and cost effective way to access the latest news,” he said.
Aside from the media apps, the group is also developing a mobile learning tool for primary school students called mTutor. The app won the inaugural FMNA Apps Challenge in June this year and they plan to launch it commercially later this year as well.
“The technology start up environment in Zimbabwe is very unique, we have learned from trial and error that we cannot simply duplicate what was done by some start-ups in USA or Kenya and expect is to yield the same results in Zimbabwe,” said Chifefete.
“Zimbabwe’s environment has critical challenges such as access to finance, access to business skills and mentors and there is a shortage of success stories to learn from - from nothing to something in the technology sector.
“There is a lot of room for improvement, the apps challenges we had this year are a step in the right direction. We need more of these. We also need companies in the technology sector to support innovation in the technology sector by creating a technology hub, holding technology seminars and rewarding entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and helping them transform these ideas into a reality,” he said.
MORE APP DEVELOPMENT NEWS
K-Free app wins Uganda Community Innovation awardK-Free, a health solution app aimed at curbing and combating breast cancer through early detection, has won the prestigious 2014 Uganda Community Innovation awards organised by Orange Uganda in conjunction with Huawei Technology. Read More
AccessKenya Group launches mobile service applicationCorporate Internet and Information Technology Solutions provider AccessKenya Group has launched a mobile service solution for smart phones and tablets. Read More
m:lab East Africa, SoftLayer partner on Mobile Impact Ventures Programmem:lab East Africa has entered into a partnership with SoftLayer, an IBM Company, to offer the Catalyst programme to startups in m:lab East Africa’s accelerator program “Mobile Impact Ventures Program” and the community at large. Read More
Safaricom launches 2nd Appwiz challengeSafaricom has launched the 2nd edition of the Appwiz Challenge, a developer competition designed to help identify and develop successful early stage mobile technology companies. Read More
Ampion Venture Bus to stop in Accra, GhanaThe Ampion Venture Bus, an initiative to boost entrepreneurship in Africa will make a stop in Ghana’s capital Accra during the month of September. Read More
Samsung, Celltick partner on West Africa UISamsung Electronics West Africa is launching Celltick’s ‘Start’ based technology across its complete range of android phones via the Samsung Apps Store. Read More
Mobile media revenues to pass $90bn in 2018IHS forecasts that total revenues from mobile media and advertising will pass $90 billion in 2018, up from $53 billion in 2014. Read More
App integration commonplace within five yearsA new report by Juniper Research on the telematics sector has found that the number of in-vehicle apps in use is expected to reach 269 million by 2018. Read More
Mobile games revenues near $29bn by 2016A new report from Juniper Research has revealed that by 2016 total revenues from mobile games will reach $28.9 billion – a growth of over 38% on the 2014 figure of $20.9 billion. Read More
YouthConnekt launches Mobile Apps for Human Development Challenge in RwandaRwanda’s Ministry of Youth and ICT and the UNDP, in close collaboration with Motorola Solutions, will power a Mobile App Challenge that will be implemented by YouthConnekt. Read More
FEATURED STORYMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers
Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHNIG President speaks his mind
Bayo Banjo, CEO, Disc Communications and President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) says the proposed licensing of infrastructure companies by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) will breed corruption and entrench monopolistic practices. Kokumo Goodie reports.
COMPANY NEWSSAP innovation transforms how Governments conduct business
SAP Africa kicked off its public sector innovation roadshow in Johannesburg, to highlight how the SAP innovation solutions portfolio including, cloud and big data, supports all levels ...