Safaricom, Vodafone excite apps developers with competition

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Leading integrated communications service provider Safaricom Limited and the global telecoms giant Vodafone Group PLC have launched a mobile apps challenge targeting developers in Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and Qatar

Dubbed AppStar, the competition runs from September 6, 2012 to November 21, 2012 and will see the top Kenyan developers take home Kshs 1 Million. 

”We recognise that the next phase of real innovation in the mobility space will come from local app developers. We therefore see the Appstar challenge as the logical next step in deepening local talent giving them a chance to compete against the best in Africa but also reap from their innovation,” said Safaricom’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Nzioka Waita.

The competition will feature entries in six categories: Games/Entertainment, Health, Education, Agriculture, Financial Inclusion and Productivity. All applications developed during the challenge must run on Android, BlackBerry, Symbian or Java operating systems.

Safaricom will spend over Kshs 2 million on this award scheme and also give the overall winners and runners up the opportunity to compete with finalists from the other six countries for the grand prize from Vodafone in Johannesburg in December.

Applications from the competition will be hosted on the Safaricom and Vodafone app stores for use by customers within these networks. This will increase exposure of a developers’ application across the multiple networks which make up the Vodafone Group.

The Deputy General Manager - Applications Store and Developer Program within the Vodafone Group, Karthik Srinivasan, said huge app development talent exists in the emerging markets and “only such developers can provide applications suitable for their respective markets.”

“This competition is an effort to showcase the depth of that talent and give those developers a chance to benchmark themselves against regional peers,” said Srinivasan.

With annual revenues in excess of Kshs 100 billion, Safaricom is Kenya’s widest 3G network with a growing fibre optic cable footprint and its most expansive WIMAX presence.

The firm pioneered commercial mobile money transfer globally through M-PESA, the most successful such service anywhere in the world.  Launched in March 2007 as a money transfer service, it now has over 15 million customers and over 37,000 agent outlets countrywide.

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