CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

Kenya: Safaricom Appstar Competition Names Top APPs , Sh2.1 Million in Prizes

Safaricom has named the winner of the Safaricom Appstar competition. In addition, the mobile operator announced 6 other category winners for the competition. The announcement was made on Friday evening at an event held at The Hilton. The event was attended by Kenya's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr. Bitange Ndemo and dozens of university students.

The six apps that topped the six categories - Games/Entertainment, Health, Education, Agriculture, Financial Inclusion and Productivity -each took home Ksh. 100,000. In addition, the runner app took home Ksh. 500,000 while the top app took home an extra Ksh. 1 million and both will represent Kenya in the Vodafone Appstar finals in South Africa on 12th December.

Two apps from Egypt, Lesotho, South Africa,Qatar,Kenya & Tanzania will represent each of the countries at the finals. App submissions were been accepted for Android, Symbian, Java and BlackBerry.

826 entries were registered for the competition with only 383 apps making it to the submission deadline with 215 from Kenya.

Tough Jungle was the top winner and also the games and entertainment category winner. The Android app has been developed since February, while the founders say they registered their firm in early 2008. The game has several scenes in an African forest with challenges such as shooting lions with a limited number of arrows. The app is currently in beta and plans to have a full version available mid January.

Joining Tough Jungle in South Africa will be Eureka which emerged as second best overall and also topped the education category. The app presents a step by step solution to problems (mathematical) and was developed by Gilbert Rono, a first year student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

In the financial inclusion category, PesaTracker emerged top. The app keeps tabs on financial spending including M-pesa transactions, in addition to providing a list of M-pesa PayBill numbers.

M-shamba topped the agriculture category, and provides information to farmers in the form of tips for both crop and animal rearing. The animal bit has diseases, which the crops lack. Produce can also be sold via the app. Gordon Ochieng is one of the developers behind the app.

In the health category, Mimba Bora emerged tops. The app offers antenatal tips and information to expectant mothers enabling them to have a safe pregnancy. In addition, users can consult with doctors in addition to calling doctors for consultations.

Nduru App topped the productivity and utilities. Developed by Thomas Kioko, Nduru App is a road safety app where users in a matatu (public taxi) can determine if the car is travelling faster than legal speed limits. The app also provides drivers with incident reports.

At the event, Safaricom said it would establish a local appstore, claims which the firm has made before. Safaricom also announced plans to start an incubator where 50 to 100 developers will be hosted in the coming month and taught how to turn their ideas into businesses.

Commenting on the selections, chief judge, Dr. Joseph Sevilla from Strathmore said that a number of the entries needed fine tuning, seeing that the contest was aimed at new entrants. Sevilla also encouraged developers to team up according to speciality, saying " programmers are not necessarily businessmen." He listed Bill Gates as an example.

Ndemo encouraged on the developers saying it takes determination to make it through. "Entrepreneurship is like playing darts, you can play all day without hitting bullseye ", said the PS. The PS was happy that Tough Jungle was following after Ma3racer in the "virgin gaming category".

The PS also made separate remarks indicating that data would be the next frontier after mobile. He also commented on a visit by a number of bankers to his office, who he said had presented Kenya as distinguishing itself in Africa, based on various indicators drawn from Singapore and South Korea.

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