Meet the winners of the regional 2013 ICT4Ag Conference Hackathon

The regional winners of the hackathon organized in the framework of the 2013 ICT4Ag Conference were announced at the Awards Dinner of the event, on 07 November in Kigali, Rwanda. This concludes the first phase of the Agrihack Championship. Meet the winners in this article. 

Read more on the hackathon blog


Supporting ICT innovations and entrepreneurship that enhance agriculture

klab1To have regular updates on the hackathon, check its blog

A hackathon is an event during which computer programmers (and development stakeholders when required) collaborate in a short period of time to develop an ICT application or platform addressing a specific challenge. Now, CTA is offering East African computer programmers a fantastic opportunity to display their skills through an innovative five-week regional Agri-Hackathon Championship!

This is not your traditional hackathon. It takes the form of a regional tournament of which the preliminary phase will be organized before the ICT4Ag Conference and the finals will take place during the conference in Kigali, from the 4th – 7th November, 2013.The aim is to showcase the potential of ICT applications in agriculture and to support the development of innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture, especially by young people. In order to ensure that the applications developed meet the needs of those in agriculture in East Africa, and that the developers have the opportunity further to refine and launch the applications after the event, CTA has involved, from the start, key East African stakeholders. International organizations supporting agricultural development, business development or ICT services have also been consulted. These stakeholders and institutions contributed to the identification of the agricultural challenges for the hackathon, during a meeting that took place in Kigali in July 2013.

CTA is organizing the hackathon in close partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (Rwanda), the Ministry of Youth and ICT (Rwanda) and East African ICT hubs and labs. A call for expression of interest was launched in August 2013 to select hubs that are participating in the Championship. These innovation spaces organised local/national selection events or hackathons on the same challenges. They each have selected a team, which will send two representatives to the Finals.

The hackathon will take place in a venue different from the main venue of the conference. The two places will be connected via webcast. Applications developed will be “pitched” at the main venue of the conference for selection by the judges. The top three applications developed and the hubs supporting them will receive a substantial prize including cash awards, capacity building and incubation opportunities. All finalists will also receive incentives as winners of the national hackathons or selection events. The three winning applications will be showcased during the Gala Dinner of the Conference.

africa mobileThis Agri-Hackathon Championship is a not a one-shot event that will close its doors after the ICT4Ag Conference. The rewards offered to the technology hubs are grants for them to provide incubation and support to the winners for six months, according to agreed terms of reference. The event is a pilot experience for CTA, hence the focus is on only one ACP region. Lessons learned will be shared and will generate other future initiatives. These activities will mainly be undertaken through the CTA Youth and ICT project ARDYIS.

Hacking for ICTs - The conference source code

Hackathon Consultative Meeting

klab2On 15-16 July 2013, a preparatory meeting was held in Kigali for the Hackathon that will take place during the ICT4Ag conference in November.

Participants from East African countries came from the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), the Rwandan Ministry of Youth and ICTs (MYICT),  the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, ICT hubs, agricultural development organisations, and included representatives of NEPAD, COMESA, and AGRA. The meeting centred around the role of hackathons in ICT applications in East Africa.

A number of possible challenges were considered during the meeting. These included communication and extension services between farmers, available weather data, market price information, production forecasting, access to finance, and distribution of agricultural contributions. The challenges facing the hackathon competitors will be disclosed at a later date. Furthermore, the meeting brought to light strong support for a national hackathon to be developed in Rwanda. AGRA and UNDP also expressed an interest in being involved in the hackathon.

Those attending the meeting concluded that the proposed event is more than a traditional hackathon but is rather an incubator for innovation. Business and software product development and a long term process in the field of ICTs will be an important focus. Fostering partnerships between ICT hubs, CTA, different ministries and other stakeholders are essential. Kigali offers the conference a great opportunity to foster support from the Rwandan Government.

Regional competitions will determine who goes to the Rwandan hackathon. Different ICT hubs will organise their own national hackathons or similar events that focus on the challenges chosen in the preparatory meeting. Two representatives from the winning national team will attend the ICT4Ag conference from 4-7 November 2013, where their products will be publically tested by invited users while the teams prepare their pitches. The pitches will presented to the judges who will award three prizes to the best proposals, which must pair a strong business plan with technical excellence. Each prize also includes a grant for the supporting Hub that will allow them to continue supporting the winners for six more months. Intellectual Property rights for the solutions developed will remain with the teams.