Technology is transforming Africa. In fact, development expert Steve Radelet just told us at a brown bag lunch this week that the spread of new technologies is one of the five major game-changers that are helping to decrease poverty and improve governance. And no one can deny the power that mobile technology has in Africa — between 2003 and 2008, Africa had the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world.
So, it makes total sense that investors and entrepreneurs are betting their chips on African technology infrastructure and development — not just in Africa, but in the U.S., too.
In order to help foster this growth and spur innovation, the State Department hosted their first-ever technology competition, Apps4Africa, earlier this year. The contest — which was open to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania — encouraged developers to build the best digital tools to address community challenges in areas such as health care, education, government transparency and election monitoring.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the official winners yesterday. “Your work to develop 21st century solutions to Africa’s challenges is a powerful example of what individuals can do to shape a dynamic, successful future,” she told the winners via video message.
The first place prize went to iCow, a voice-based mobile application that helps farmers track the oestrus stages of their cows. We love this one because livestock is really important in Africa. It’s a major source of people’s income and nutrition, and is their safety net in dire times. So, the healthier the livestock (and the more they are able to reproduce), the better off people are.
Second place went to Kleptocracy Fighters Inc, an application that allows citizens to record and report real time information on government corruption, and third place went to Mamakiba, a tool designed to help low-income women save and prepay for their maternal health needs.
Congratulations to the winners, and we look forward to hearing more about these tech products in the future!