Hackathon winners look to go commercial

APP DEVELOPMENT

-
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Hackathon winners look to go commercial

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.



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE APP DEVELOPMENT NEWS

YouthConnekt launches Mobile Apps for Human Development Challenge in Rwanda

Rwanda’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

MEA2014 urges more apps for basic phones

Mobile East Africa 2014 has ended with a call for East Africa’s mobile app developers to create more solutions suited to basic and feature phones. Read More

Samsung WOW app connects millions to Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Samsung’s WOW (Wireless Olympic Works) is now available; offering a personalised experience, athlete cheering feature and tutorials on all 15 sporting events for Sochi 2014. Read More

Ghana’s MobileContent introduces Greeting Cards App

One of Ghana’s leading mobile value added service (VAS) providers, MobileContent, has released a new electronic greeting cards application. Read More

Less than 1% of consumer mobile apps a financial success

Gartner predicts that through 2018, less than 0.01 per cent of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers. Read More

Kenyan developer wins Appstar challenge

The winners of the 2013 Vodafone Safaricom Appstar challenge have been announced. Read More

Two Kenyans in the running for Appstar finals

Safaricom notes that two Kenyan mobile app developers are among 8 developers competing for cash prizes in this Wednesday’s Appstar finals.  Read More

Gaming app introduces investors to trading

A new virtual stock market app is equipping would-be investors with the skills they need to trade. Read More

Android training underway at University of Botswana tomorrow

A week of Android training kicks off at the University of Botswana Computer Labs tomorrow. Read More

Android training, workshops set for UB

The University of Botswana (UB) through its Computer Science Faculty, is set to carry out IT training and workshops and the 2013 mHealth Hackathon during the first week December.  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN Business

FEATURED STORY

Kenyan bloggers get their act togetherKenyan bloggers get their act together

Bloggers seem to be gaining a formidable position in Kenya’s online media fraternity, reports Semaj Itosno.

IN DEPTH

E-waste threatens Ghana’s beachesE-waste threatens Ghana’s beaches

Many beaches in Ghana, already stressed by pollution and poor maintenance, are now facing a new threat: e-waste.

COMPANY NEWS

Further African expansion for Phoenix

Phoenix Distribution, a leading broad-based distributor on the African continent, has expanded its office in Nairobi, Kenya, in a move to better serve its partners in East ...