MEST-Vodafone Hackathon Diaries (Day 3, FINALE)

And the winner is…

After three gruelling days of sleepless nights and tireless #hacking, 19 apps were finally showcased in a keenly contested battle of hackers. The five main categories were in health, security/alert services, lifestyle/home services, entertainment/games, and transportation/traffic management services. On the whole for some of the ideas, while not particularly novelty, the implementation was quite interesting. In the spirit of simplification the real trick here was about making the app practical, easily accessible and relevant to Ghanaians.

Team CheckIt crowned 2015 #MESTVodafone Hackathon Champions

This hackathon was by many standards very different. There were three levels of assessment; source code review, functionality implementation and pitches(comprising business, pitch quality among other critics considerations). At the end of the event, two teams emerged as winners and runners up. CheckIt, the 2015 #MESTVodafone Hackathon Champions took on the challenge of addressing the nagging issue fake drug peddling in Africa, particularly in Ghana. While their idea is not necessarily novelty, the simplicity of the implementation, the intuitiveness and appeal of the app, and the potential impact seems to have won the hearts of the highly esteemed judges. RoadMate, on the other hand seeks to give real time traffic updates and suggest shortest routes, public transport fares among many benefits to the regular public transport user in Ghana. They choose the crowd sourcing approach which seems to fill the nagging gap in the current Google Maps and Google Navigator due to the almost none existent addressing system in Ghana.

Team RoadMate comes up runners up in the 2015 #MESTVodafone Hackathon. 

Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology(MEST) and Vodafone Ghana extend their congratulations to the well deserving teams. All the participants are also invited to the after party at GIMPA.

DevCongress, a proud supporter of the biggest true hackathon in Ghana says a big AYIKOOO  to CheckIt and RoadMate. We hope you don’t abandon the idea and go to sleep. For once, let a fully fledged idea come out of a hackathon. That is the dream!

Here is a peep into the winning apps.

RoadMate

 

CheckIT

 

 

Some highlight from the pitch day

MEST-Vodafone Hackathon Diaries (Day 2)

#Hacking continues unabated.

After the festive opening of the biggest hackathon of the year, the #MESTVodafone #Hackathon  kicked into full gear by day 2. 19 teams/app had been fully confirmed. Hacker have worked feverishly all through the night. It was impressive to find people on code-steroids hacking almost nonstop for 48 hours! The energy and drive is amazing. It is a great feeling in here.

The ideas are another thing. The innovation, the simplistic genius and the tenacity to solve problems is most commendable. Definitely one of the hacks must see the light of day.

One of the ideas that caught attention almost immediately is CaptureIT. They present the most simple way to enable journalist get almost instant access to photos of events around the world as they happen. This takes news crowdsourcing up one notch. Even more interesting is Trodini. Imagine yourself late for a very important meeting and want to get there even faster. Trodden is what will get you there. It crowdsources shortest routs to various locations and real time traffic updates to help users get there on time. It also rewards you to posting your shortcut routes.

Trodini gets you there twice as fast!

As promised, this is not going to be your usual #kpakpakpa code. There will be special source code review and feature implementation test before the pitches. Loaded!

Here are other highlights of day 2.

MEST-Vodafone Hackathon Dairies (Day 1)

The sun rose quickly, almost in a hurry to see the hackathon begin. The eventful partnership between Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) was announced in pump and splendour with the C.E.O of Vodafone Harris Broumidis and the Managing Director of MEST Ekua Odoom in attendance.

This was quickly followed by a quick and exciting launch of the hackathon. The participants then went on a pitching spree selling their ideas and skills to another. By end of the day the    150 plus participants had formed 20 teams with different innovative ideas in the areas of Lifestyle and home services, security and alert systems, health, gaming and entertainment, and transportation and traffic. These keenly passionate developers had gathered to brainstorm on pragmatic solutions to pertinent issues plaguing Ghanaians in the above mentioned areas.

“On the whole it has been a great event so far. I have met really nice people and I think we have the winning team (DATEEM). The reception has been great and the food as well. The highest point of my day has the fantastic facilitators who have helped us snapped our idea. This is just great.” says Stephan Froelich, IBM End User Support officer, @frostymarvelous

Here are a few pictures of the day. Stay tuned for more updates. Day 1 is ending but hacking continues unabated. Good luck all.

Ghanaian Entrepreneurs to Benefit From MEST-Vodafone Partnership

MEST MD, Ekua Odoom signs with Vodafone Ghana CEO, Harris Broumidis

Various initiatives and partnerships have been launched recently to drive entrepreneurship among the Ghanaian youth. Beyond the promises of the government to promote entrepreneurship, other private organisations who realise the need are taking the steps to nurture more entrepreneurs.

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology needs no introduction when it comes to software entrepreneurship across Africa. With more than 15 startups and 2 acquisitions, the school continues to chart the course of “creating globally successful software companies.”

Vodafone Ghana, one of the most profitable Vodafone branches worldwide, has been involved in providing avenues in the field of software development to bring out the best in Ghanaian youth and creating more economic opportunities. With the Mobile for Good program, and later the Vodafone App Star Competition, the involvement with the community keeps growing. (Evidence by Leti Arts winning the App Star Competition.)

This morning, the official MEST-Vodafone partnership was signed.  Under this partnership, Vodafone with its infrastructure and technology base will nurture and provide support for MEST and its related developer communities. Also at the event, the MEST Vodafone Hackathon lasting the next 3 days was launched. The  hackathon themed, “Powerfully Simple” presents software hackers with 5 categories within which they find pains and build viable solutions over the hackathon period.

Vodafone CEO, Harris Broumidis added that innovation from young entrepreneurs are needed because most groundbreaking software systems come from events like #MESTVodafone Hackathon. Since there is “myopia of operational framework” in large organisations, hackathons provide the platform for thinking out of the box and sparking ingenuity.”  He therefore challenged the participants to, “Go out there and change the world and make the changes that we all deserve.”

We look forward to more of such partnerships as entrepreneurship takes centre stage across the continent. Does this partnership benefit you as a software developer? What are your thoughts and questions?

Solve Real-World Problems At The MEST-Vodafone Hackathon (February 5-7, 2015)

Over the past year, Ghanaian developers have been involved in several hackathons on various sectors in oil and gas, social good, citizenship, etc. Sometimes, I wonder if these activities are able to achieve the desired results. Many teams usually just come for the money and leave.

I have been fortunate to witness just about 2 MEST hackathons It gets more exciting as the years go by, from being in the winning team two years ago to covering it last year. The participation of developers outside MEST has increased over the years, same for the organisations involved.

This year, MEST has partnered with Vodafone Ghana to host the 2015 MEST-Vodafone hackathon which comes off from Feb 5 – 7. This is a major development as the telecoms company is beginning to gain an interest in the developer space and tech in general. First with App Star, then Mobile for Good. This hackathon promises to be better as it looks at simplifying processes across various sectors in Ghana, processes we long for daily.

It’s an opportunity to build products which provide access to information, simplify transactions, and shorten business processes, etc. As usual the prizes have been bumped up for this year – I caught wind of something exciting, details will be out later. Just stay tuned to hear more about the prizes for this year.

Participation is free, register through this link, the seats are limited. Hackathons are fast becoming a part of Ghanaian tech culture now. I hope we begin to fully appreciate and continue development on the products which are built at these events. I look forward to this hackathon. Will you be there? Any experiences of hackathons to share?

SHM Foundation Tackles Health at #Hack4Good Hackathon

Hackathons are beginning to be a part of Ghanaian tech culture. Just in the first half of this year, there have been about 3 of them. That’s encouraging for a country with a growing tech space like Ghana. I had the opportunity to take part in the #Hack4Good Hackathon at iSpace yesterday organized by SHM Foundation.

The iSpace Innovation Stairs

This hackathon was different in that it brought health professionals who worked with the techies all through the day. I was lucky to have Jacqueline and Kobby as part of my team. The hackathon was aimed a coming up with solutions for the health industry, an industry that can really benefit from techies in Ghana.

The event started at 9am with registrations, chat, and new people meeting each other. by 10am, a lot more people had joined and the room full enough to begin the activities planned out for the day. Josiah, co-founder of iSpace, welcomed all participants, explained the reason behind the hackathon, the rules concerning the cash prize, and wished all teams luck. For this hackathon, 50% of the cash prize would be presented on winning, and the other 50% disbursed when the prototype/MVP with the said features was completed.

Josiah of iSpace welcomes all

After that introduction, there was breakfast for all since most people had left their homes early. Team formation began after that. Team formation was different this time around. Participants numbered to 5 and people with the same numbers fell into the same groups. Later, as and when techies and health professionals arrived, the joined the groups.

The main topics for finding solutions for were as follows:

  • Sexual Health
  • Mental Health
  • Sex Education
  • Streamlining Health Policies Using Technology. 

At the end of the day, 3 teams had worked on Sexual Health, 1 on Mental Health, and another on Sex Education.

Lunch time soon came as teams were still discussing and finding practical solutions within the topic areas given. Lunch was well taken care of by the techies. Teams reconvened after that since the reporting time for pitches was 4pm. A few more hours, more prototyping, coding, and validation, time was almost up for the presentations. By 4:30, the presentations had began.

The teams and their ideas are as follows:

  1. Mentolibera: A web/SMS application which has a CSO-based approach to adopt and care for mental patients. the organizations pay through mPower Payments and are able to monitor patient’s progress online.
  2. Colorite: A mobile game that uses photographic memory of players to help them remember sexual health tips, and to find a was to engage the youth and provide useful information to promote healthy sexuality.
  3. Mentis: A gamified web/SMS application to help mental patients keep in touch with their doctors, and also provide a way for addicts to reach close people easily when they feel vulnerable.
  4. Doctor Doctor: A mobile app that simply connects patients to specialized doctors in and around their current location.
  5. Sexual Health: A web/SMS application to help people connect with doctors, and find useful information that have to deal with the very simple but negligible questions about sexuality.

After the pitches and our late snack, the stage was set for the live streaming of the Google I/O Conference Keynote. More guys from the Google Developer Group has come around. Feedback was given to each team, results were announced and Sexual Health was adjudged winners of the Hack4Good Hackathon.

Winner of the #Hack4Good Hackathon: Sexual Health

Honestly, I think the approach taken to this approach was excellent since it brought together both techies and experts. Also, the nature of the disbursement of funds encourages the techies to build the product and not just make prototypes like people have done at previous hackathons.

Congrats to all teams that participated and the organizers!

What an amazing run!

Amazing first year! Whew. What a run! We sit here today looking back at how big we have grown in such a short time. But the real credit goes to YOU. Yes you our treasured +DevCongress member. You gave life to our dreams and made it all worthwhile. So before we say thank you we would like to have a quick retrospective look that the year 2013.

In August, you came out on a limb of faith to see what this +DevCongress noise was all about. We met at MEST and delved in to new technologies that can drive our developer space in Ghana and Africa, and a very fruitful panel discussion around electronic payment in Ghana. We discussed among other things how we can drive the space and make it more effective. Not only were you guys full of wonderful ideas but you also contributed massively towards the open source projects. Special gratitude to  all who have contributed so far. We are amazed. They are still in progress and will be launching soon. Keep fingers crossed.

Then in October you came out again for the first ever e-commerce hackathon in Ghana organized by DevCongress and the able partnership of SMSGh at +iSpace. We made ourselves proud that day by building useful projects on the SMSGh APIs as well as the MPower Payments API. Kudos to all the winners. But you know that for showing up alone you are a winner in your own right, right? Yes you are. DevCongress is about inspiring confidence and if you had the guts to show up, then we have won. 😉 Does this look familiar?

By your relentless contribution, we have one of the most vibrant tech forums in Ghana. Thank you all for sharing resources, links, ideas, and answers to questions posed to the forum. In 2014 we look forward to an even more dynamic and vibrant  forum. Ours will be the Stack Overflow of Africa. Do you promise to make it so?

Also we were humbled by the massive support we enjoyed from MEST, Blogging Ghana, SMSGh, MTN and Joy FM. These organizations did not only commit resources to the DevCongress cause but showed incredible confidence in us even before we proved ourselves. How do we say “thank you” enough?

In the coming year, we plan for greater things. Full steam innovation and crazy hacking! Put on you gear and brace yourself because it is all about disruption! We will disrupt the tech space in Ghana and that is a PROMISE! We will keep you posted.

For now we just want to say a massive thank you for your immense support and unflinching confidence in DevCongress. We are truly grateful to have you on board.

Finally, to wrap it all up what should we call a DevCongress member? If your suggestion wins, we will tell you what is in store for you. It will blow your mind away. So what should we call you?


We wish you all happy holidays and the very best in the coming year.


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