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iCow, and Other Apps for East Africa

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, October 4 2010

Remember "Apps 4 Africa," the contest being put on in East Africa by the U.S. State Department aimed at stimulating local developers to build apps that in some way improve the quality of life in Africa? The winners are being announced in Nairobi this week, and we've got a look at who came up big, which includes cow-calving apps, development work trackers, and SMS death announcements:

First Place: iCow is an app intended to help hundreds of thousands of E. African farmers and ranchers earn a living. It is a voice based mobile application that helps farmers track the oestrus stages of their cows that enables them to better manage the breeding periods as well as monitor cow nutrition leading up to the calving day.

The first place winners receive $5,000 and an Apple IPad.

Second Place: Kleptocracy Fighters Inc. allows citizens to record and report real time information on instances of corruption they are witnessing within government or ruling class officials. Reports can include: audio, video, text, and are meant to be both positive and negative. Reports with then be sent to legal and media partners to help publish incidents of corruption in an effort to help eradicate those issues.

The second place winners receive $3,000 USD and a Nokia N900.

Third Place Winner: Mamakiba a patient-facing SMS savings calculator and prepayment tracking tool specifically designed to help low-income women be able to save and prepay for their maternal health needs such as ante-natal care (ANC) and clinical delivery.

Third place winners receive $2,000 and a Sprint HTC Desire.

Honorable Mentions each receive $200 and are as follows:

1. Fogs Funeral Announcements: An application for generating death and funeral announcements via text message. Radio and newspaper are costly in the region, and this application addresses the unique habits of Kenyans to follow these announcements. Fog will allow users to cheaply and easily draft, edit and deploy these types of messages to ensure they reach friends, family, former schoolmates and colleagues .

2. Kenya Constituency Development Fund : Community Tracking and Mapping enables Kenyans to easily view both official and on-the-ground details of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects that are ongoing in Kibera, a neighborhood of Nairobi and the world’s second largest slum. This application will review and map submitted reports on the real status of aid and development projects submitted on the ground, in contrast with officially reported government statuses as well as allocated amounts, contractor details, photographs, and geographic locations. This evidence based monitoring, combined with the communication power of maps and the web, serves as a powerful advocacy tool for improved accountability of devolved funds in Kenya.

3. Ujuzi Mobile Resource Locator that is intended to run on the lowest-end Java enabled mobile devices. The Ujuzi project uses the XML API provided by One Economy, an NGO which operates The Beehive website. The Beehive is a portal of important life topics specifically aimed at low-income Internet users, worldwide. One Economy maintains unique versions of its Beehive website for parts of Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and more. Via the API, The Beehive provides a directory listing of social services that can easily be accessed by anyone connected to the Internet. One Economy maintains the back-end API and database, and through a series of on the ground partnerships, continues to compile its listing of service providers. Now, the Beehive content will be usable by an entire generation of mobile users -- and this tool can be scaled to other functions.

A note of disclosure: as we've pointed out a couple times already on the site, PdF (the publisher of techPresident, if you aren't familiar) is producing a one-day workshop for the State Department in Santiago, Chile, next month. The long and the short of it is that we maintain a wall between that work and what we do editorially on techPresident. There are more notes on disclosure here. At some point, the State Department disclosure in particular will drop down to a footnote appended to each post mentioning State, but it's worth putting it front and center at least in the early going.

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