Safaricom Apps Development Challenge and Why The Quality Kenyan Apps is Going Down

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Safaricom  earlier this week launched Safaricom Development Challenge, targeting new mobile application developers in Kenya. The aim is to equip the participants with entrepreneurial and technological skills.

This is a follow up to the successful Safaricom AppStar Challenge done last year , which was won by Tough Jungle game application.  Tough jungle, a Kenyan game that  contains different levels of play which are revealed after successful navigation of one level, went on to win the overall prize at the regional challenge in South Africa . But I would say those were golden moment and golden days for Kenyan developers. I think the quality of the apps being created has gone down.  Recently I attended Microsoft Imagine Cup competition and I left the place a disappointed observer. The quality of the apps and ideas by most developers were pathetic to say the least .I am  not sure whether that was an isolated case, but the n considering the fact that the likes of IBM don’t trust the local talents to run their innovation and research center in Nairobi, something is not right.

One would probably argue that Imagine Cup is for the university students, but those are our  university students, where as a country we expect the best of the best from. In many parts of the world universities are where the research, innovation and invention usually take place. When our students can not come up and compete with the world best, then there is something wrong with the system which need to be rectified.

That brings me to the judging criteria. Kenya is full of winners, winners of all sort of competitions and challenges, but the pressing questions is do winners end up being something beyond the winning. Having been on this industry for a while, I don’t expect instant success but there is deafening silence about most of the winners to the extent that you would think that all their apps died straight after winning. For example I have talked about Tough Jungle but the last time I heard from them was when they won the competition. Where is Ma3Racer which won the Pivot East competition last year, where are the guys who won the Startup Garage, how about the winners of Startup Weekend, same goes to the winner of Nokia Hackathon and Google Android Challenge? Since the judges give all these apps thumb-ups, may be the problem lies with the judges or if not that then the criteria they use to judge them.

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I hope Safaricom has come up with a better judging criteria for the judges.

Great, I have finished ranting, now it is time to finish the Safaricom story. Safaricom Incubation challenge is designed to help Safaricom identify and develop successful early stage mobile technology companies. The participants will undergo training and mentorship throughout the incubation period.

It is open to mainly university students and post university students with knowledge in IT, mobile application development and business management skills. It is also targeted at small and upcoming businesses that have interest in mobile application development.

This challenge is focusing on the following categories:

  • Agriculture
  • Health Financial Inclusion
  • Education Entertainment
  • Games and Media
  • Utilities
  • Transport and Infrastructure
  • Public Safety and Security

The Incubation program will involve a three month incubation phase that is expected to be full time. Dates for the incubation challenge will be as follows;

  • Launch: 09/05/2013
  • Submission Closure: 28/06/2013
  • Hack-a-thon: 27th to 28th July 2013
  • Incubation Start Date: 12/08/2013
  • Incubation Ends: 25/10/2013
  • Final Event- Award Ceremony: 01/11/2013

The grand prize winner will walk away with Ksh 1,500,000 with the runner up taking Ksh 1,000,000. Category winners will take Ksh 200,000 each.


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