For many years Facebook has been promoting innovation across the Middle East and Africa, providing startups with the tools they need to build, grow, monetize, and measure. Facebook grew out of a hacker culture, and we thrive on seeking out and promoting innovation on new platforms. That’s why they are launching the Bots for Messenger Challenge, a contest to recognize and reward developers who are able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger in (i) the Middle East and North Africa; and (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa across one of these these three categories:
- Gaming and Entertainment
- Productivity and Utility
- Social Good
Teams of up to 3 people are invited to participate in the Challenge. The submission period runs from February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017, and winners will be announced on June 19, 2017.
In view of this, Facebook will be partnering with AfriLabs to implement the Bot challenge through our network. We will like to request for your shipping address so we will be able to send across the Facebook posters for the Bots Challenge once received from them.
From each region (i) Middle East and North Africa; and (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa, 30 finalist teams (10 from each category) will win a Gear VR and mobile phone, Facebook mentorship and up to $40,000 USD in tools and services from FbStart, a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their bots
Note: All student teams or individual student entrants who make it to the finals will receive an additional $2,000 USD.
Runner Up Teams
For each region, 3 runner up teams (1 from each category) will win $10,000 USD and 3 months of Facebook mentorship.
For each region, 3 winning teams (1 from each category) will win $20,000 USD and 3 months of Facebook mentorship.
April 28, 2017
Please review the Terms & Conditions carefully before registering.
Some important rules to note:
- Bots must be created, and will be verified, between February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017. Bots created before February 15, 2017 will not be eligible to participate.
- Bots must comply with all Facebook for developers Messenger Platform developer guidelines and rules, and use the Messenger Platform API.
- Any bots created on other non-Messenger bot platforms will be excluded.
- Bots must be created by people in the Entrant’s home region of either (i) the Middle East and North Africa or (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Bots may be in any language (or combination of languages). Only the Bot Submission must be entirely in English.
- It is optional to submit a link to an online video of the bot, but if you do, the video must be under 2 minutes long.
- Technical Quality – How well does the Bot use the Messenger platform features? [35%]
- Non-Technical Quality – What is the degree of excellence of the Bot, taking into account the Bot’s distinctive attributes and characteristics (except for the technical aspects)? [35%]
- User Experience – How usable is the Bot for the intended audience, including how well the conversation flows? [30%]
To learn more and participate in the challenge, kindly visit here.
Remember the Nairobi Tech Week event?? You may be wondering what happened to the ReportTaka Team who were winners in the challenge. Well, we got a chance to interview Bettirose, one of the team members and this is what she had to say…
What made you come up with the idea?
When we decided to join Angel Hack’s Hackathon during the Nairobi Tech Week, it wasn’t so much to win, but to be part of the solution that Nairobi needed to be smart. Prior to the event, we had been affected by the floods that occured in Nairobi every time there was a downpour. In fact, the previous day, one of our classmates had to go back home, having covered half the journey to school after the vehicle he was in stalled. This got us to think of a solution to help solve the flooding menace in Nairobi, and ReportTaka was created.
What exactly is ReportTaka?
ReportTaka is a platform that allows citizens to conveniently report unattended garbage using their phones. We aggregate this data, either sent through Twitter, SMS or our Android Application and relay this information to relevant authorities who we partner with. This was the winning idea during AngelHack’s first Hackathon in Africa, which gave us a chance to join their HACKcellerator program that is planned to start on 1st August 2016
Tell us about the Twitter #SmartCityNairobi Competition
Together with two other winning teams, Naimotion and FixMtaa, team ReportTaka got a chance to compete in Twitter’s #SmartCityNairobi Challenge. On 3rd June 2016, ReportTaka was again crowned the winner of the #SmartCityNairobi Challenge taking home a $10000 cheque to actualize their project.
Who are the Team members?
The team is made up of five friends who are also classmates, studying MSc. Mobile Telecommunications and Innovation at @iLabAfrica’s Safaricom Academy and they include Peter Gikera, James Ngugi, Bettirose Ngugi, Racheal Gathagu and Kizi Dimira.
ReportTaka is currently working on building partnerships with players in the garbage industry while refining their product. Being Metta Nairobi members, an initiative by Nest, they are able to meet other entrepreneurs who help mentor and give us feedback. In October 2016, they hope to travel to Silicon Valley for the final event of HACKcellerator program. They are raising funds to help them cater for travel and accommodation costs since only one of their team members has been sponsored.
What is the Idea Foundation Seed Stage Program?
The Idea Foundation Seed Stage Accelerator Program is a platform to develop and grow innovative business ideas through training, mentorship and coaching and financial support. The program is implemented by @iBizAfrica in Collaboration with IDEA Foundation. There are two intakes in a year, in April and August. The program targets innovators and leaders seeking to solve problems that affect the society in Kenya through innovation and entrepreneurship.
Who is eligible to apply?
The program is open to qualifying students and alumni of Strathmore University. We target teams comprised of individuals with competent skill sets to make the business a success. The team should include at least a visionary (CEO), Business Lead (CFO), Marketing Lead and Technical (CTO) Lead.
Why should you apply?
The program is is a great platform to accelerate the development, growth and success of startup business ideas. In the past Through this program @iBIzAfrica and IDEA Foundation have help many companies to develop, grow and succeed. These include: Purpink Gifts, Valuraha Group and Buymore LTD.
What Benefits will YOU get?:
- Develop and sharpen business skills.
- Receive mentorship and coaching from successful entrepreneurs and experts.
- Upon Successful completion, receive a certificate of completion and an opportunity to receive seed funding of upto KES. 500,000. The funding is a low interest rate .(subsidized and below market rate) repayable upon the business becoming successful or convertible to a grant. We do not take equity.
- Work-space at and access to office facilities at @iBizAfrica
What is the program Duration?
The program is 3 months long between April and June. Key Dates are as follows:
- Call for Applications-Feb 16
- Selection-March 25
- Training Starts-April 1st
- Training Ends –April 15th
- Incubation starts –April 18th
- Selection Committee Approval for Funding-June 10th
- Incubation Ends-June 17th
- Submission of Applications for Funding-June 17th
Register here to be considered for the Program!
Discussion on the future of Software Development and Innovation in Kenya Held at Strathmore University
@iLabAfrica-Strathmore University and the IBM Corporate Services Corps Group held a stakeholders panel discussion on Software development and innovation in Kenya on the 22nd May 2014, at Strathmore University.
The panel discussion was the culmination of a two weeks training program by the IBM Corporate Services Group on Next Generation Application Development. It was an opportunity to examine the state of software development training in the country from both the academic and industry angles. Panelists were drawn from both fields and all addressed different issues in regard to what needs to be done to ensure Kenyan software developers keep up with the latest trends and are trained to become problem solvers and not language-specific programmers.
The IBM corporate services group, led by Ben Mann, the program director at IBM’s software division took the stage to explain the future of software development. They observed that application development is continuously changing and developers need to learn a new way of producing software in order to keep up with the demand and competition. In this new model software is developed much faster, deployed quickly and updated continuously to meet users’ needs. Cloud, mobile, big data, social and Internet of things are the new drivers of software development and the IBM team had spent close to two weeks teaching these skills to developers in Kenya.
The panel discussion was attended by a mix of students, software developers and other IT professionals who packed the Strathmore University auditorium to take part in the great discussion. The discussion was a sizzling and engaging session where various issues were raised in regard to challenges facing software developers and possible solutions. One of the challenges identified was that curriculum is hardly keeping up with the continuously changing industry needs. This was pointed out by one of the panelists, Dr. Joseph Sevilla, the director of @iLabAfrica, and the founder of the Faculty of IT in Strathmore University. Dr. Sevilla observed that this can be improved by involving industry experts in curriculum review and running co-curriculum activities that expose students to training in the latest technologies. Another Panelist, Veronicah Ogeto, head of innovation at Safaricom supported this saying that many graduates take a long time to adapt to industry standards, requiring longer training periods. One of the initiatives Safaricom is running to reduce the disparity is deploying environments where students can learn industry relevant skills while still in university. For example, Safaricom has deployed a telecommunications infrastructure to help students in JKUAT learn hands-on skills in GSM network operations. While the technical skills are very important, developers also need good communication skills, soft skills and ability to relate to people from different cultures. This was observed by another panelist, Rachel Reinitz-Distinguished Engineer and CTO of Software Services for Websphere, IBM Software Group. Conrad Akunga an experienced software developer and founder of Mzalendo challenged students to become problem solvers and not to confine themselves behind a particular programming language or platform. He observed that this was one of the major hurdles that software developers had to jump to have real impact in solving the many problems that Africa faces.
At the end of the discussion, the consensus was that the most important thing for students aspiring to become great software developers was to gain skills learn how to solve problems. Industry, academia and the students were also challenge to foster the right motivation to work for changing Africa.
@iLabAfrica and Samsung launched the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) app on the 28th of April 2014. The app was launched at Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board offices on Lenana Road in a press conference.
The PPB app comes bundled with rich features that will safeguard Kenyan’s from counterfeit drugs as well as provide access to other vital information regarding drugs, pharmacists and other pharmaceutical professionals.
Using the PPB application one will be able to:
- Access a list of all registered pharmacists and other pharmaceutical professionals
- Access a database of all registered human and veterinary drugs and other drug information such as prescription, reaction and dosage.
- Report suspected poor quality/counterfeit medicinal products. One can also report a suspected adverse drug reaction.
- Search for chemists and pharmacies within a certain radius.
- Plot the map and directions, also displays the official contacts.
The application also enables you to provide feedback and contact the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board. It is currently available for Android on the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board website. It will be coming soon on the Samsung App Store.
PPB app is a shot in the arm as the Kenya PPB continues to fight rising cases of counterfeit and substandard drugs in the country.
- Free incubation at the ultramodern @iBizAfrica business incubator- here you get access to office space, Internet, mentoring and coaching, legal advice, access to funding and more!
- Support from GE to launch and scale your solution