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
Need for info inspired Flippy Campus appDavid Mumuni, CEO of Flippy Campus, is set to showcase his app at Demo Africa. He spoke to Biztechafrica ahead of the event. Read More
SAP launches Africa Code WeekSAP Africa has launched a youth skills development programme targeted at 20 000 children in eleven African countries. Read More
Jumia updates Android appOnline mall Jumia has announced a new version of its android application: Jumia Android app version 2.5- Live. Read More
MTN sets the scene for new IoT business opportunitiesMTN’s new pan-African Internet of Things (IoT) platform lays a foundation for African developers and innovators to bring to market innovations in the IoT spaces, says MTN Business. Read More
DevOps: The Worst-Kept Secret to Winning in the Application EconomyIn this second article on DevOps and the worst-kept secret to winning in the application economy, Jaco Greyling, CA Southern Africa’s Presales Manager for Application Delivery, Enterprise Management and Mobility’, reveals the factors what is driving the demand for DevOps. Read More
MTN provides free Nigerian apps to its 61 million customersMTN Nigeria is offering Nigerians a full month of free downloads for all Nigerian apps under the auspices of a movement tagged APPtitude. Read More
Ugandan developer creates app to boost agribusinessA creative Ugandan developer is spearheading the adoption of technology in agribusiness with the development of an app that can be accessed and used while offline to ease communication between producers and other market players, making it ideal for most rural areas without power or internet connection. Read More
MHub launches Jobonology Mobile App competitionMalawi’s first technology and innovation hub, mHub, has announced launch of a mobile application development competition, called ‘Jobonology Mobile App Challenge’ (JMAC) for Malawian software developers. Read More
5 usability requirements for mobile appsDeveloping mobile enterprise apps requires a new mind-set as they are very different from enterprise apps made for desktops, delegates said at a Magic Software round table. Read More
Enterprise mobile apps need to be as simple, functional and beautiful as consumer appsCompanies that want to drive the best results from mobilising their business processes need to give their employees access to apps that are as simple, attractive, integrated and rich as the consumer mobile apps they use every day. Read More
FEATURED STORYIHS plans to inject fresh $500m to grow capacity
Mohammed Darwish, managing director of IHS Towers, says the firm will soon inject another $500million into the business after raising some $2.5billion to finance expansion drives. Darwish spoke with biztecafrica.com in Lagos.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAs curtain falls on MDGs, what next?
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, speaks to Biztechafrica about setting smart targets.
COMPANY NEWSMTN Business expands partnership with Samsung to offer enterprise customers increased security
Samsung Electronics South Africa has announced that MTN Business has been appointed as a reseller of Samsung’s KNOX licenses to its customers.