The winners of the US climate change competition “Apps4Africa” were announced on Wednesday with Nigeria emerging champion for the West African zone on the sidelines of the ongoing COP 17 in Durban, South Africa.
The Apps4Africa challenge is a competition which challenges program developers to find innovative technological solutions to everyday problems on issues ranging from transparency and governance to health and education.
Victor Ogo Ekwueme from Nigeria won the first prize worth $15,000. He developed a program known as the HospitalManager – a web-based application that helps hospitals and health organizations prepare for disasters such as floods and storms. More frequent heat spells, rains, and floods are leading to heath emergencies, both due to the event itself, and later to water related disease. HospitalManager will help hospitals in Nigeria, and potentially throughout Africa, identify patterns in patient visits following rains and floods, so that staff can better prepare for these situations and save more lives. Hospitals can anticipate incoming disease and emergency patterns using real time climate forecasts. On longer time scales it will allow policy makers to plan locations of new hospitals.
The $7,000 second prize went to the Senegalese team – Assane Seck, Guillaume Blandin and Markus Faschina. They developed an Eco-fund Forum, a web-based community organizer and geo-localized data exchange tool which helps individuals and communities working on sustainable resource management throughout Africa to share their own experiences on best practices. Thus they will better understand and respond to the climate change challenges impacting each specific local context.
The $3,000 3rd prize went to the Ghanaian team – Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Owusu Addai. They developed Farmerline, a mobile and web-based system that furnishes farmers and investors with relevant agricultural information to improve productivity and increase income. Lack of information about weather patterns and about which crops grow best in a changing climate hurts rural farmers’ yields. Cell phone use is growing rapidly throughout Ghana, including in rural areas. This mobile tool can help farmers in Ghana to get information about agricultural best practices down to the farm level, including choosing crops best suited for their specific location, and how to prepare for changes in weather patterns (including dry spells, changes in seasonal onset, and extreme events).
Other West African countries that participated in the competition were Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde.
The goal of the competition is to ensure that African innovators have the opportunity to contribute their ideas to the discussion that their own and other leaders will partake in at COP17.
The Climate Challenge centered around several strategic themes that coincide with policy decisions that will be debated and decided upon by world leaders at the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) conference in Durban, South Africa.
Apps4Africa began in late 2009 when several individuals and companies joined together to propose a competition that would reward local innovators for their ideas and projects.