By Irene Gaitirira
Published December 17, 2015
An information-sharing and billing system designed for the agricultural community in Botswana has won the 2015 Developers Challenge for Africa and the Middle East region organised by French telecommunications operator, Orange.
FarmConnecta, the Botswanan project, beat Egypt’s The Nilebot and Congo-Kinshasa’s The Cycle M to the â‚¬10 000 top prize.
While FarmConnecta is a mobile marketplace dedicated to livestock trading that enables users to access market data and locate lost cattle via a simple mobile telephone, the Nilebot uses a hardware and software solution for real-time measurements of water quality in aquaculture and thus helps aquaculture professionals to be more proactive and to improve their productivity. The Cycle M start-up, on the other hand, is a family planning system for mobiles (based on an application or through texting) that provides a tool that can be used to calculate a woman’s menstrual cycle and identify important dates to avoid unwanted pregnancies and births.
The 2015 Orange AMEA Developers Challenge was launched in August 2015 in France and 11 other countries in Africa and the Middle East: Botswana, Cameroon, CÃ´te dâ€™Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Guinea Conakry, Jordan, Kenya, Mali, Niger and Senegal.
The purpose of the challenge is to help stimulate innovation in Africa by offering start-ups the possibility of using Orangeâ€™s application programming interfaces (APIs) to enrich their applications with functionalities that are sometimes essential, such as billing or texting.
While the call for applications attracted 1,200 innovative projects, the proposed projects illustrated the potential of telecommunications for regional development in fields as varied as healthcare, agriculture, education and energy.
Initially, ten projects per country were chosen for the shortlist. Twelve finalist projects were then chosen by a selection panel composed of experts from Orange and from the Information Technologies and Communications industry.
The 2015 edition of the Orange AMEA Developers Challenge is reported to be marking the acceleration of Orangeâ€™s Open Innovation initiative in Africa and the Middle East by opening up the Groupâ€™s technical platforms and providing support for local developer ecosystems through its Orange Partner programme.
Orange says it offers access to its Texting API in Cameroon, CÃ´te dâ€™Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Guinea, Niger and Senegal, and to the USSD and Billing APIs in Egypt.