By Dinfin Mulupi
Foreign investors take front seats to witness the regions best of the best in mobile applications and start-ups.
VENTURES AFRICA – The two day annual East Africa mobile start-up challenge dubbed Pivot East came to a close last night with a colorful gala dinner where a mobile racing game set on the busy Nairobi highways was declared overall winner.
The racing game dubbed Ma3racer by Planet Rackus beat 24 other mobile innovations from across the region to walk away with the coveted title.
Users of Ma3racer choose which Ma3 (matatu) they want to drive in the streets of Nairobi and try to tackle the many obstacles they face such as pedestrians crossings, stationery vehicles and vehicles being driven on the wrong side of the road. The end goal for users is to collect as much money bags as possible. As of September last year, Ma3racer had been downloaded 280,000 times in 169 countries.
Ma3Racer is the first in a series of games created by Planet Rackus, a collaboration of likeminded individuals who have a shared passion and vision for telling Kenyan, East African and Pan-African stories through a sustainable digital entertainment framework.
Other winners in the competition included SchoolBursar , a mobile application that streamlines the process of receiving and managing payments through M-Pesa, which walked away with the overall prize in the Financial Services Category. SchoolBursar performs real-time analysis and generation of reports for each student, sends reminders to parents and guardians who have fee deficits and alerts the administrator and principals of the same.
In the Business and Resource Management Category, EasyOrder developed by Afro Cyber Inc Solutions from Uganda emerged tops. The SMS based mobile ordering and supply chain management application simplifies the way customers order for goods from manufacturers and distributors.
Mprep, an sms study solution for students, teachers and schools won in the Mobile Society Category. The application quizzes students on topics they have learned in class and provides feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. So far , more than 4,000 students in 85 schools across Kenya use the platform.
MafutaGo, a mobile and web application that helps users find the petrol station that best suits their needs emerged top in the Utilities Category. The application developed by a Ugandan team displays a petrol stations location, the services the station offers and special offers the station may have for its clients.
The organizers of the regional mobile apps / developer competition seek to bring focus on the mobile developer and entrepreneur community in East Africa. Other than pitching sessions, key industry stakeholders like Safaricom CEO Bob Collyomore, Kenya’s Vision 2030 Director General Mugo Kibati, Kenya ICT Board Chief Executive Paul Kukubo and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Dr. Bitange Ndemo took part in fireside chats that dealt with various topics ranging from opportunities in entrepreneurship, challenges in financing and the role of corporates in stimulating innovation.
“The quality of pitches has improved as compared to last years competition. Everyone was polished and had their financials in order . Those are the little things that impress investors who may or may not be putting their money in these start ups. The end goal is not to win the competition. The end goal is much bigger,” said Erik Hersman Director of Operations and Strategy, shahidi.
The competition has created interest in the regions technology sector with more investors and ventures capital funds trickling in. The organisers have indicated that next years competition will be held either in Kigali , Dar es Salaam or Kampala.
The competition was organized by the m:lab East Africa, a consortium of four organizations aiming to be a leader in identifying, nurturing and helping to build sustainable enterprises in the knowledge economy.