To spur individuals to develop 21st century solutions to Africa's challenges, the United States Department of State, in partnership with private sector and nongovernmental organizations, introduced in 2009 the Apps4Africa competition. This has become an annual event.
The most recent topic was Climate Change, with separate contests held in three regions: East Africa, West and Central Africa, and Southern Africa. All submissions were carefully considered, and the nine winners, three from each region, were announced. For their suggestions for innovative, practical applications for mobile phones, computers or the Web, they were awarded substantial prizes.
Winners of the West and Central Africa Apps4Africa were announced in December 2011: first prize went to HospitalManager, which will help Nigerian hospitals prepare for extreme weather events. Second-place EcoFund-Forum will allow Senegalese communities to share successful strategies for adapting to local impacts of climate change. And Farmerline, the third prize winner, will provide farmers in Ghana with the information they need to increase yields in the face of climate variability and changes in the growing season.
The East Africa winners were announced in January 2012. First prize went to Grainy Bunch, a grain supply chain management system for Tanzania. Second place winner Mkulima Calculator will help Kenyan farmers use climate data to optimize their crop planting decisions. Agro Universe will help Ugandan communities prepare for pest- and drought-induced food shortages by linking them to farmers with available produce.
On June 15th, the Southern Africa winners were announced. From Botswana comes MyHealth, which provides climate information, early warning alerts, and health monitoring features to help its users adapt to shifting patterns of disease and other health emergencies as the climate changes. Service Anti-Cyclone, which alerts users in Madagascar to pending cyclones, and collects data on cyclone patterns and impacts, won second prize.
Third place went to unsApp, a web forum for improving food security in Zimbabwe by providing climate change information and adaptive management techniques that match the needs and customs of users’ communities.
Through the Apps4Africa competition, the United States is looking for innovative ideas that will inspire people, helping to implement the small steps that will help Africans succeed.