Ericsson launches ‘Apps for African City Life’ competition for sub-Saharan Africa’s ICT innovators

The MedAfrica teams poses with their dummy cheque after emerging winners in the 2012 Ericsson Application Awards.

Ericsson has announced the launch of a regional competition for application developers, startups and visionaries living in sub-Saharan Africa. The competition titled ‘Apps for African City Life’ is part the global 2013 Ericsson Application Awards (EAA 2013) – an ongoing annual competition for application developers worldwide, organized by Ericsson.

Applications are an integral part of Ericsson’s vision of a Networked Society, where anything that benefits from being connected will be connected, as applications enable mobile users to create bespoke internet connections to give and receive information to suit their lifestyle.

Lars Lindén, Head of Ericsson Region sub-Saharan Africa said, “This competition is designed to highlight potential uses of technology and innovation to address global challenges and individual hardships. It is an ideal way to harness ideas and showcase talent from across the region. Last year one of the regional finalists went on to win EUR15, 000 in the global competition, with their MedAfrica app, which was designed to increase access to health-care related information and services via mobile phones.”

The regional competition, which opened on October 29, runs until January 25, 2013. Entries will be accepted in two categories – one for students and the other for small and medium-sized enterprises. Teams are required to develop an application based on the Android platform that addresses the theme, ‘Apps for African City Life’ which is designed to promote the development of innovative ideas and mobile applications to address situations particular to urban centers across the region.

The market for mobile applications has exploded over the past few years, and is expected to be worth more than U.S. $21 billion in 2014. This growth has been driven by the rise of smartphones, the development of mobile internet, and the advent of several operating systems including the open-source Android mobile operating system.

In tandem, the rate of urbanization in Africa is widely recognized as the most rapid in the world. In 2010, 47 African cities had populations in excess of one million. By 2020, Africa is expected to have 70 cities with populations over 1 million, including 11 mega-cities with 5 million inhabitants or more. According to the latest United Nations projections, between 2010 and 2030 the urban population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double, from 298 million to 595 million.

However, urbanization in Africa has yet to deliver the economic development and degree of prosperity that might have been expected. Inadequate education and physical infrastructure have constrained the efficient use of resources, and the industrial development that might have come with it. While ICTs, and in particular mobile technology, has dramatically transformed the way we live, work and play, there is still an untapped potential for it to be used in supporting social and economic growth, and well-being in the region.

This year, members of the winning teams in the regional competition will each receive top of the range android tablets and all application submissions will be automatically entered into the global competition – EAA 2013 – ’Apps for City Life’, for the chance to win a €25,000 cash prize.

Last year’s winners of the global competition – Shimba Technologies – came from Kenya with their MedAfrica app which was designed to increase access to health-care related information and services via mobile phones.

Interested developers are required to register teams of two to four people online and submit an Android-based application on city life in Africa before January 25th, 2013.


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