U.S. launches East Africa software competition “Apps 4 Africa” in Kenya

United States Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale launched the “Apps 4 Africa” contest at the Innovation Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, July 1.

The regional competition seeks to harness the power of African software developers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda and leverage the power of digital technology to improve the lives of ordinary people in East Africa and worldwide. The competition runs through August 31.

Here is the announcement on the US State Department’s blog.

Today in Nairobi, Kenya, Under Secretary of State Judith McHale and Ambassador Michael Ranneberger announced the launch of a new competition to spur technological innovation in East Africa.

Apps 4 Africa is a regional competition with the goal of promoting local technology entrepreneurs as they build tools to serve the needs of local NGOs and the local community. This unprecedented partnership meshes civil society with developers and designers to create technical solutions to local challenges. The competition will ask civil society and citizens throughout the region to submit local community challenges on issues like transparency and better governance, health, education and more where technology can be a part of the solution. The burgeoning ranks of innovative techies in the region will then use this list of community challenges as the basis of their work, thus creating “an app for that.”

The competition is already unfolding at www.apps4africa.org, where you can get a feel for some of the issues that people are already seeking help addressing. We are actively calling all developers from the region to get involved and get to work!

The competition is open to developers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. However, citizens around the world can participate by voting on ideas and, if they are technology savvy, serving as online mentors for local programmers. Submissions can be sent through a variety of ways, from going to the website, to Twitter and tweeting to @App4Africa, to Facebook through joining the Facebook group Apps4Africa. In Kenya, participants can send in their idea through SMS to 3002 and including the word “app” anywhere in their message.

Starting now and running till August 31, 2010, you can follow online as civil society meets developers and collaborate through this online open source platform. Submissions will then be reviewed by a panel of judges, a range of technological and civil society leaders from the East Africa region and beyond. The judges will determine the best applications and award prizes of money and gadgets. The prize money for each individual can help winners further develop their idea.

Apps 4 Africa is an innovative competition sponsored by Ihub, AppAfrica, SODNET and the U.S. State Department to support civil society by giving them more tools to help scale their critical work and to also harness the best of the regional creative and innovative spirit

Here is the official site for the contest.

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