Last week at Africa Gathering London 2012 the winners of the Southern Africa portion of the Apps4Africa competition were announced and a Zimbabwean application made it into the top three.
Just to prove the future of developers in Zimbabwe is bright of the three honourable mentions two were Zimbabwean.
UnsApp by siblings Hugh, Mercy, Tinashe Marshall and Tonderai Marshall Sado scooped third place which came with a US$3 000 cash prize.
The app spreads awareness through a web forum where adaptive management techniques maybe be considered in improving food security in the future.
What is surprising is the fact that Hugh, who led the development of the app, has no history in app development; he actually started to do research on mobile apps when the challenge was announced.
A miracle worker of sorts, Hugh, whose time is spent most on research that relates to agricultural and aquatic projects, put everything else aside and for two weeks the young man knew of nothing else other than his project.
“To come third was incredible for me because someone actually took the time to look at my project against others from 14 countries and winning was brilliant. This was my first IT project and it gave me insights into the workings of mobile applications,” said the 25-year-old.
Hugh, whose profession is livestock and wildlife management, said the whole project was driven by the negative impact of climate change and the need to appreciate sustainable agriculture. He acknowledge that though it may have looked it easy the opposite is true because he didn’t know what he was up against but still made it.
“Food security was the basis of the project in that climate change is affecting food security and this was an innovative way of ensuring food security,” he said.
Although he is currently unemployed he urged fellow youths not to shy away from subjects that they may not be familiar with saying research is important for people to learn and articulate new subjects.
Varimi by Tanaka Mutakwa, Chido Warambwa and Chanda Pwapwa received an honourable mention as a portal that pushes out key farming information to its registered users to help them adapt, for instance weather projections or answers to commonly asked agricultural questions.
Oraniq by Tonderai Shamuyarira was the second one and it promotes information about using chemicals to farmers in hopes that they will produce organic foods instead of chemical enhanced crops.
What makes the story of these young Zimbabweans inspiring is that they all did it with far less resources compared to their competition.
$15 000 for first position went to myHealth by Donald Taboka Masole, Patricia Motsumi, Mosetsanagape Motlhabane from Botswana.
The application seeks to help users take precautions by providing information about weather and diseases related to the weather like diarrhoea and malaria. Then it helps the user schedule an appointment with a doctor to receive appropriate care.
Second position, worth US$7 000, went Andrianomanana Endrehina, Marie Laure Rahaingomalala, Jean Baptiste Paul Joseph Arsène, Fenitra Andrianomanana, Miora Sarobidy, Haingonirina Marie Violette, Faniry Andriamampianina of Madagascar for their Service Anti Cyclone.
It alerts users of pending cyclones, which are very common, and cause significant damage on the island.
The Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge builds on the success of the 2010 Apps4Africa: Civic Challenge in which civil society challenged program developers to find innovative technological solutions to everyday problems on issues ranging from transparency and governance to health and education.
The 2011 competition began in Western and Central Africa in October, with Eastern and Southern Africa followed shortly thereafter. Winners receive prizes, including cash awards, gadgets and travel. Private partners, including TED and Indigo Trust, may contribute technical assistance, prizes, and follow-on support for the new partnerships created by this platform.
The Apps4Africa Challenge began in late 2009 when several individuals, organisations, and private companies joined together to propose a competition that would reward local innovators for their ideas and projects.
The Apps4Africa: Civic Challenge was held in 2010 when the Apps4Africa competition brought together local technology entrepreneurs to build tools that serve the needs of local non-governmental organisations and their communities in four East African countries.
A panel of judges chose winning projects based on their potential to have a measurable impact as well as their ingenuity.
Having Zimbabweans shining prominently is a sign of the level of skills the country has especially since this was the first time for the country to participate in the competition after being sidelined in previous competitions.