A group of 40 application developers and entrepreneurs from across the world were on Wednesday recognised for developing solutions to challenges facing communities in Africa.
The ceremony, that took place in Kigali was organised by Ampion Africa, an international non-profit organisation that seeks to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the developing world.
Participants included seven groups of entrepreneurs that had traversed all East African countries, looking out for persistent challenges and building mobile solutions in health, transport, agriculture, and energy among others.
The overall winner was a group that designed JamboCar, an application piloted in Kenya that seeks to overcome the challenge of public transport by linking travellers to private car owners.
Presiding over the ceremony, the Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, commended Ampion for playing an important role in finding solutions to society’s problems through the use of technology.
“This event aims at accelerating our efforts in innovation. Young people should use this opportunity to ensure that they develop ideas and applications that help solve daily challenges,” Nsengimana said.
“Technology applications lead to wealth creation and help transform lives. We need entrepreneurs who provide solutions to healthcare services, agriculture, and public service.”
Fabian Carlos Guhl, the founder and managing director of Ampion, said the awards aimed at facilitating design of mobile solutions to societal problems.
“We want to enable people solve problems and move forward. We chose Rwanda for these special awards because the country has consistently demonstrated willingness to to foster entrepreneurship,” he said.
“The winner will receive further support, including access to our network of inventors and mentors, and we will facilitate them in finding office space and do for them public relations.”
Participants came mainly from East Africa, Europe and USA, and they included entrepreneurs, ICT experts and students. Six Rwandans were involved.
Davis Mugira, 29, a web developer and designer, is one of the Rwandans that took part in the competition. He runs his own company called Spiderbit Ltd, which develops software.
Mugira and his team developed mTunza, a financial knowledge platform that provides audio information and content and real-life stories of successful businesses to SMEs and entrepreneurs.
“This application is bent on providing businesses in rural areas with information on how to start a business, manage finances, and plan for the future,” he said.
“My dream is to run a successful company and develop solutions that can change the lives of communities.”
Bettirose Ngugi, a Kenyan student of Computer Science at Jomo Kenyatta Institute of Agriculture and Technology, was the leader of the winning group that created the JamboCar application.
“Our creation is a simple mobile application which brings passengers and drivers of personal vehicles to the market place. Drivers with extra seats, who are traveling to a certain destination can accommodate someone who is willing to part with a small fee,” Ngugi said.
“A list of registered drivers is made with their identification and travellers can check them out and link up for a ride. The application heavily relies on ratings for security purposes and includes ID information for both travellers and vehicle owners. This is a good platform for countries that have hectic public transport.”
Seventy per cent of the participants are from the region, while the rest are from USA, Lithuania, and Germany.