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,” Clinton Mutambo, one of the Barcamp coordinators

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe successfully held its first Barcamp on Wednesday, with 15 start-up companies competing in a challenge designed to promote innovation among local tech businesses.

The Barcamp, encompassing topics such as e-education, the open and social web, mobile, games design, interaction, design, and programming attracted over 200 people at Harare Sports Club. 

“We wanted to get professionals in ICTs together to look at developments in the country,” Clinton Mutambo, one of the Barcamp coordinators told Biztechafrica.

“Barcamp has led to progress elsewhere on the continent, particularly in Kenya, which we see as a very good model of the direction we want to take, because it has gone through similar experiences as our country. They have managed to elevate to such an extent that they are now one of the top 10 internet and mobile development hubs, even ahead of South Africa with all its resources.”

A local IAP, Zimbabwe Online (ZOL), put up USD25 000 in prizes for the top five start-ups.

Sadomba-Mahari, a software development firm that developed a 3D computer graphics animations application for advertising media production and film-making called AvisPar Visual Package; and Mukela Travel, who developed an online reservation site connecting local and international tourists to accommodation options in Zimbabwe, qualified for the final challenge, while the other three finalists will be named next week after a second round of pitching.

The winner stands to receive USD10 000 while two runners-up will each receive $5 000.

Mutambo said the first Barcamp had shown the depth of Zimbabwe’s intellectual resources in ICT.

“For us we wanted get people together, interact and generate a sense of purpose and we think this is a good basis for moving forward because we have young developers, many start-ups and big companies and all are individualistic. We want them collaborate and create a hub, which is the trend now worldwide.

“Following the successes of Facebook, Twitter and other such media, investors are looking for the next hot idea and I think we have it here from the presentations we have had so far,” said Mutambo.

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