by Dr. Christelle Scharff
It’s already the Third Competition of Mobile Development in Senegal! When this competition was launched for the first time, the mobile landscape was just at its quintessence in Senegal. Since then the community of mobile developers, entrepreneurs, companies, and enthusiasts has grown. Senegal is one of the most promising mobile markets in Africa.
The competition was initiated by MobileSenegal, a pioneering community focusing on mobile technology (training, pilots, and entrepreneurship) and founded by educators who are also mobile professionals. It generates lots of enthusiasm from Dakar to Ziguinchor, and is good practice and springboard for participants who take part in other contests. To date, none of the existing competitions (even international) focusing on mobile had as many submissions. MobileSenegal capitalizes on three years of work on the ground with training (technical and non-technical) and community building. It put in place a model to organize the competition that emphasizes education, professionalism, and follow-up. This year, the follow-up will be emphasized in different ways: 1) MobileSenegal will mentor the participants to have them release their applications on the Android Market and Nokia Store; and 2) CTIC (http://www.cticdakar.com) will guide the participants in terms of entrepreneurship.
This third edition slogan was “Kou Maffa Deugg Néma Massa“ and, indeed, students and young professionals were at the rendez-vous. The competition was open to all students in Senegal who were asked to submit mobile solutions on the theme “sustainable development – social, economic, environmental…”. Participants could develop for any mobile platform of their choice. They submitted materials including descriptions, executables, videos, screenshots, and presentations. International and local judges evaluated the submission on impact/relevance, innovation/creativity, usability, and quality/readiness to ship. The judging process is comprised of two phases. The six best applications were selected by thirteen judges from Senegal, Canada, France, India, Mali, UK, and USA; the three best ones were then determined after presentation by four judges in Senegal. To engage the community, the public could vote for its favorite app by SMS based on the videos.
15 applications were submitted – 5 Android applications and 10 Java ME applications. The topics tackled by the students include health, transportation, business & finance, productivity, environment, civicism, and social networks. In 2009 and 2011, 12 and 15 applications were submitted respectively. 34 participants (including 2 females) were involved from EPITECH, ESMT, ISI, LTI-ESP, NIIT, UCAD, Thies, and UGB.
The three best applications were:
- 1st place: SenGeoSante, an Android application for dynamic location of health facilities in Senegal, particularly in Dakar.
- 2nd place: Donor, a JavaME application that connects blood donors to hospitals.
- 3rd place: Transport Dakar, an Android application that provides information about closest bus stops.
The three additional finalists were:
- Easy Contracept, a Java ME application that allows and provides contraception information for women.
- Adresses Utiles, a Java ME application that guides users to their favorite spots.
- Visa Mobile, an Android application that helps the user to set up appointments with embassies and consulates
The other applications were XIDMA, NumberLearning, Soukali Mbay, Tontine Group Management (GMT), ArClean, Senecouture, Mobil Money, Census Management (voting card) and EduC-NATURE.
We gathered comments from the participants and from the judges to assess the competition and build on the findings for the organization of future competitions and activities of MobileSenegal. Some of the quotes are included here.
What are the participants saying about the competition?
- “Participate in a competition is the best way to evaluate first our skills, second our idea to get feedback to improve it, third to obtain devices to work on, and fourth to get visibility on our work, that’s my motivation.”
- “I would like to say to all beginner programmers how good it is to work under such circumstances: good motivation and desire to do our best. In any case, [the competition] allowed me to challenge myself […].”
- “I want to finalize this application and release it in the Nokia Store. I also want to develop it on other platforms.”
What are the judges saying about the competition?
- “I was impressed by the quality of some of the submissions I reviewed (better than “professional” code I’ve seen!).”
- “Organizing contests make the students think innovatively and make them work hard. They try to do their best.”
- “Some students developed their applications very well and their ideas were quite innovative.”
- “It is interesting and motivating to get to know the new and innovative ideas of students and how they implement their ideas.”
- “The quality of the applications was promising, but there is still place for improvement in terms of usability and UI.”
The competition is really only a beginning! 6 netbooks will be provided to the first participants who will put their applications in the marketplace. The Nokia phones will be provided to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and to the first teams when they will release their applications on the marketplace. We will be back in 3 and 6 months with our progress on the release of the applications in the Nokia Store and Android Market.
We are very thankful to our sponsors and supporters who trusted us in the organization of this competition. Pace University and ESMT are partners in the organization of the competition. Prizes were provided by IBM (3 laptops and 6 netbooks), Nokia (9 phones – Nokia N9 and 700) and O’Reilly and Pearson Educations (9 books). Djanoa/Celtouch (http://celtouch.com, http://djanoa.com), Neurotech (http://neurotech.sn) and SenMobile (http://senmobile.com) sponsored the award ceremony that took place at the Novotel Hotel. CTIC offered to follow-up the teams in terms of entrepreneurship. SenMobile proposed to do a usability and UI evaluation of the 3 best applications.
For more information:
Videos of the applications (6 finalists):
Posters of the applications (all):
Pictures of the competition:
PowerPoint presentation on the competition:
Sud Online, Un projet de géolocalisation des structures de santé remporte le 1er prix, 11 janvier 2012, par Bacary DABO
SenGeoSante : la « meilleure application mobile » au Sénégal, 10 janvier 2011, par Senegal Medias
Concours de développement mobile : les trois finalistes connus, 3 janvier 2011, par Sénégal Medias
Site of ESMT (Ecole Superieure Multinationale des Telecommunications)
The following 3 videos were filmed by Basile Niane.
Video of the winners
Video of SenGeoSante
Interview of Christelle Scharff
MobileSenegal: 2011 in Review