What Happened at Ghana’s First eCommerce Hackathon

After a successful developers conference in August this year, we set an audacious task; to organize a hackathon. From the response we received from MPower during our panel discussion at DevCongress, we decided to partner with SMSGh to come up with the DevCongress MPower Payments API Hackathon.
It was a great time having developers dedicate their time to build products on the MPower Payments API last Saturday, 5thOctober, 2013. Don’t worry, we are aware the money was a major motivation too.
So we set off on our hackathon at about 10am at iSpace, mainly because of some logistical issues, and developers didn’t arrive on time. By the time we began, we had enough people to get the games going. For the developers who came early, there was breakfast to cater for any eventualities.
As expressed earlier, some people came in their teams, as others came to form teams at the event. The standard was at least 2 and at most 3 per team. In the end, almost all the teams which turned out were 3 in number.
For most of the developers, this was the first time they had taken a look at the API, something I wouldn’t advise prior to a hackathon. Look at it at least twice before the event. That’s not cheating!
The day began with an ideation session as the teams took time to find ideas which they can integrate MPower Payments with. Then the coding session began at about 11am.
So the developers hacked till about 3 pm when we took a break for a code chat. This code chat was meant to keep all participants abreast of what each team was up to. Since this was not an ideation competition, the focus was on building a product so discussing your idea was not a major hurdle. In the background, teams were called for interviews .
After the code chat, teams got back together, and continued hacking. Right about that time, the mixologists and the DJ had started setting up. DJ Adom also came in with lights. The mood for the party was already set!

At about 6pm, teams were asked to round up their work, bringing the coding session to a close. This was followed by a reminder of the rules and criteria by which the teams would be judged. So they were: 50% for MPower integration, 30% for finishing the product, 10% for UI, and 10% for the pitch itself.
At the end of the pitches, the SpeedBanking team of First Capital Plus Bank, setup up a short presentation as the teams took their rounds at the judges’ tables. In all, the developers had put in a great deal of effort to build products in such a short time.
After all the teams had gone through to the judges’ tables, they spent a few minutes on the dance floor.
It wasn’t long after that the dancing was paused for the final declarations.
At the end of the event, Fundr Africa came first, EasyFundssecond, while Caridad took the 3rd place. It was such a delight to see on-screen as the cash prizes were disbursed into the developers’ MPower accounts live. For bonus point, all teams were given the 2-week window to complete and deploy their products and win GHC 500 instantly. How cool is that!
After the team presentations, MPower took the floor to congratulate Alfred Rowe for his immense contribution to MPower Payments. The previous day, MPower Payments had swooped several awards in 5 categories at TopApps Award 2013, making SMSGh the App Company of the Year.
On the whole, there were not as many developers as one would expect at a hackathon. However, the general participation of the developers who were present was very encouraging.
We, the DevCongress team, are really grateful for the interest expressed by the developers. We are glad you have set out on this journey with us; we promise to deliver the best content for software developers in Ghana. #LetsDoThis

Build, Hack and Win at the DevCongress MPower Payments API Hackathon

We have great news. But first, we are glad you helped us in starting out with our first developer conference last August. Thank you!

We have come so far with you. And we’re asking you to join us on our next biggest move – we’re hacking on the MPower Payments API! As you remember, we talked a lot about mobile payment solutions in Ghana at our first DevCongress. We, together with MPower Payments, have decided to give you a chance to hack, build and win with the MPower Payments API. Awesome, isn’t it?
We have partnered with SMSGh for this hackathon, so come join us this Saturday, 5th October at the premises of the iSpace Foundation in Osu from 8 am till your code works! We know that most developers in Ghana would like to make use of mobile payments; this is the perfect opportunity for you to finally build that outstanding product and begin to make some real good money.
This is how it works.

You come with your team of up to 3 people, or you can form a team of at most 3 people at the hackathon. No one knows it all, so we wanted to see “trio-programming” at work this time. The teams would be required to cross some checklists, and help other teams, to build points for themselves as they create their applications. Obviously, the team with the most points, and the most efficient code, wins. That simple!

There will be guys from MPower, the developers who built the API, who will help you answer the difficult questions about the API. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a pro to join but it sure helps. Come, you may just meet your co-founder or your biggest business partner yet. Oh, and some executives will be passing through. Get those networking skills ready and your business cards. Your next job may depend on that.

Get involved, register at https://egotickets.com/events/devcongress-hackathon

Since this is the first e-commerce hackathon in Ghana, we’re making it big. It’s not just code, there’s light, camera and … #LetsDoThis

DevCongress 2013 Recap – Part 2

cont’d from Recap: Part I

After lunch, Jeffrey Godwyll of Ghana Technology University College opened the second phase with his talk on Google App Engine. For most developers, we would want to quickly host a project for a client to view online. If you cannot use Google Drive to do that, an alternative is App Engine which currently works on PHP, Python and Go.

Joel leads the talk on Design Patterns
Design patterns was the next tech talk delivered by Joel Funu. Joel talked about the various techniques to solve programming bottlenecks with design patterns.

Another great part of DevCongress events is the rich opportunity to meet new developers and strengthen your network. That was the focus of the next 15 minutes or so. Developers made new friends and reconnected with old ones. The hallways and lounges were filled with laughter from shared memories and new ones being created.

At this year’s conference, we chose 3 topics for our workshop; Chrome DevTools, Agile Development and Version Control with Git. The workshop sessions run concurrently in 3 different classrooms. These topics were chosen because most developers identify with at least one of these. For Chrome DevTools, Yaw Boakye lead the session. We also had two MEST fellows teach the other sessions; Rhys Moyna taught Agile Development while Nikunj Handa led the Version Control session.

The final tech talk for the day was an introduction to NodeJS by Precious Ewusi Nyarko. He took participants through the process of creating and running a simple HTTP server with nodeJS. Though it was the last talk, it had loads of energy to keep people alive.

Final item on the program was the more action driven activity, what we call the “Way Forward”. We believe that developers should be able to collaborate on various projects, which is one of our objectives. During this time, we decided to take up projects that would have high impact on the community and the tech space as a whole. Based on the earlier reaction to SMSGh’s job search processes, the participants agreed to develop a job posting service for developers. The project is currently underway on our git repo for any developers who are interested to join in.

The general reaction was that developers look to HackerNews, TechCrunch, etc as news sources. Again, they agreed to create a Google Chrome extension which will be a news feed for our blog. That project is available for collaboration on GitHub.

One impressive person we got to know during our preparations was Michael Turkson who was so excited about DevCongress that he created a Google Map route for anybody who needed directions to the venue on Saturday.

DevCongress 2013 finally ended on Saturday, and we’re glad about the excitement and encouragement from people.

We would like to extend our gratitude to the staff and students of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology for believing in our idea and giving us the support we needed. Also to Blogging Ghana, we would like to thank you for featuring us on your blog. For all who spoke, attended, blogged, posted on various social networks and supported us in various ways, we thank you.

Follow us on Twitter and check devcongress.com for frequent updates on our upcoming events, and more importantly for opportunities to contribute to projects and develop yourself as a developer.

To my teammates, Yaw and Elorm, you rock!