Facebook celebrated the achievements and products of its growing African developer and partner ecosystem at its annual F8 developer conference, held in San Jose, California, on April 18 and 19. African developers shared the stage with Facebook and developers from around the world, showcasing innovative products and services they have created for their local communities and the global market.
F8 hosts more than 4000 people in person and hundreds of thousands of people watching via Facebook Live for two days of new products, tools, interactive demos and speakers to help developers build, grow and monetise their apps.
This year Facebook brought F8 to developers around the world through F8 Meetups hosted with tech hubs around the world. In Africa, it hosted F8 Meetups in Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town, where participants watched live streams of the sessions in San Francisco.
“We’re partnering with many African developers to launch products that not only meet the needs of their local markets, but which are also ready for the world stage,” says Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for the Middle East and Africa. “Events like F8 are a perfect opportunity for us to talk about how we will work with partners to do more with our platforms. As importantly, they are a forum for us to get feedback from our ecosystem and to showcase our partners’ work to the world.”
African developers who featured in F8 sessions include the following:
- Asoriba: A Ghanaian start-up that has built software that enables churches to better manage member engagement, donations, and attendance. The company was featured in the Keynote for its work using Facebook Analytics.
- Rancard, a mobile solutions company based in Ghana. Its Rendezvous, social recommendation system was featured in two sessions at F8.
- Pass.NG is an education start-up from Nigeria that helps students practice for their university entrance exams.
- Truppr is a social fitness start-up from Nigeria.
- Afrinolly is an app that allows users to catch up with Nollywood content on their mobile phones. It is one of the first Nigerian companies to build the Facebook Surround 360 camera.
- Quiz.ng, an online quiz platform based out of Nigeria.
- Kudi.ai Messenger Bot to send money for free to any bank, buy airtime and pay bills; first African bot to be featured on Messenger Blog.
- Kangpe: A health service from Nigeria that lets users ask real doctors their health questions.
- Eneza Education: An educational app from Kenya.
- Refunite: A service from Kenya that helps refugees to reunite with their families and loved ones.
African students and developers showcase their talent
In attendance were two representatives each from the winners of Internet.org’s Innovation Challenge in Africa awards. These awards from Facebook’s Internet[dot]org recognised leading examples of ideas, apps, websites and/or online services that provide real value in the categories of education and economic empowerment.
- Economic Empowerment Innovation Challenge Award Winner: Ghana’s Esoko makes it easier for businesses, governments, NGOs and others to connect with farmers through its web and mobile apps.
- Economic Empowerment Impact Award Winner: mPedigree Goldkeys from Ghana is an anti-counterfeiting, tracking and tracing solution that uses consumers’ mobile phones as a verification tool.
- Economic Empowerment Impact Award Winner: Nigeria’s SaferMom provides pregnant and new mothers with simple tools to help make informed health decisions via sms, voice services and its mobile app.
- Education Innovation Challenge Award Winner: Founded in South Africa, Hyperion Development is a social enterprise that has built the first online course platform for computer science education.
- Education Impact Award Winner: Launched in Ghana, Mutti by mPharma is a drug affordability service that enables patients to access high quality medicine at lower prices with flexible payment terms through micro-payments.
- Education Impact Award Winner: Nigeria’s Tuteria connects people seeking to learn with people around them who can teach.
Facebook also invited four graduate students from Carnegie Melon University Africa in Rwanda to attend after they won the CMU-Africa Messenger Bot Hackathon. The university’s Aimable Rwema and Lenah Chacha developed BiasharaBot, which provides an innovative platform for merchants and buyers to connect.
“The Hackathon showed me the importance of building a business or idea on a social media platform. Facebook is used by over a billion people worldwide, offering developers a huge market,” says Rwema.
Their fellow students, Joshua Ocero and Davy Uwizera created a farmbot that connects farmers (or cooperatives) with produce buyers. “Attending F8 is a great opportunity to mingle with Facebook developers from around the world. It is an opportunity to visit Silicon Valley, where people’s dreams become reality,” says Ocero.
Launch of Developer Circles
At F8, Facebook also announced a new program for developers all over the world to connect, learn, and collaborate with other local developers. Developer Circles is a community-driven program that’s free to join and open to any developer.
Each Developer Circle is led by members of the local community who act as leads for the circle, organising events offline and managing a local online Facebook community. Developer Circles are forums to share knowledge, collaborate, build new ideas and learn about the latest technologies from Facebook and other industry leaders. Lagos, Nigeria was the first place that Facebook piloted this global program and Innocent Amadi, one of the community leads for the Lagos Circle was featured at the Keynote.