06 October 2010

African app developers rise to competition

East Africa continues to develop as a centre for mobile innovation, with the recent Apps4Africa competition generating interest from local software developers.

The contest was designed to stimulate interest in developing applications for smartphones, which are quickly gaining market share due to the variety of applications available. Rather than the infamous 'fart' apps that proved to be among the most popular on the iPhone, developers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania generated ways to provide useful information, particularly for entrepreneurs and farmers.

The contest ended on 30 September and offered cash prizes and gadgets, including an iPad, for code and completed applications. Importantly, the organisers called for open-source applications, which would enable other developers to build on these efforts.

Of interest were a number of proposals for health-related apps for medical professionals and the general public, including information for expectant mothers and some directly designed to promote the Millennium Development Goals. There are clear benefits to development from providing access to mobile technology as a source of information and income, as this study from Lesotho shows. Hopefully Apps4Africa will result in even more evidence.