Posted by: Djam Bakhshandegi, Citizenship Lead, Microsoft West, East, Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands.
1.65 million. That’s a big number. More importantly, it’s an exciting number, because it’s the number of students who have participated in our annual Microsoft Imagine Cup competition since its inception 10 years ago.
Over the past decade, young minds have created millions of new games, applications and solutions – solutions that address some of the world’s toughest social problems.
And Africa has been among them!
Last year, Team Code 8 from Uganda walked away with the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Award, for developing an app that helps detect Malaria – without even pricking a body part.
And this year, we’re proud to see even more brilliant, innovative and life-saving solutions come out of Africa. Teams from Uganda, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, Tunisia, Senegal and Morocco have all competed in this year’s 12th annual edition – and three of them are moving on to the World Finals, taking place in Seattle on the 29th of July 2014!
Below is an overview of what just some of our local teams have created.
Team AfriGal Tech,Uganda – World Finalist
What they created: mDex
What it does: According to Team AfriGal Tech, every year in Uganda 30 000 babies are born with sickle cell disease, a hereditary and life-threatening blood disorder. 80% of these babies won’t make it to the age of five. mDex is a mobile sickle cell diagnosis tool, which is made up of a mobile app and an external compound lens. The tool allows for a quick, easy and affordable diagnosis, by using computer vision and pattern recognition.
Fun fact: Team AfriGal Tech come from Makerere University. They were also the only all-female team to compete in the Imagine Cup National Finals this year!
Team High Rise, Nigeria – World Finalist
What they created: CATARA
What it does: CATARA uses HD smartphone cameras to quickly, accurately and affordably detect early cataracts. It helps to reduce the rate at which cataracts cause total blindness, while also supplying statistical data to NGOs, government bodies and research institutions.
“We are passionate about reducing the rate of cataract surgeries performed in the world. We want to offer a better life for everyone. We have dreamt it. We have built it. And now we, as a team, believe that our solution can live it,” says the team.
Team Illogic, Egypt – World Finalist
What they created: Puppy in Bubble
What it does: Falling under the ‘Games’ category, Puppy in Bubble is a fun and interactive physics-based game. It follows the story of Spout, a mischievous puppy that always wanders away from his owner, Adam!
What they created: Farmer climate and soil assistant
What it does: Farmer climate and soil assistant is a software application that analyses the fertility of soil. Users take a photo of the soil to begin the analysis process, which detects available nutrients and suggests crops that are suitable to be grown on that piece of land.
Fun fact: This is the first year that Rwanda has competed in the Imagine Cup competition. Team AGRIStars come from the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology, where they are all completing their bachelor’s degrees in Computer Engineering.
What they created: Life Buddy
What it does: Life Buddy is a mobile application that uses Microsoft Azure to help anyone who is in need of a blood donation to find matching blood donors. Users send a request to the app, which then sends a notification to donors of a compatible blood group. The notification includes details of the hospital and contact details, so that users can receive blood in the fastest possible time.
Fun fact: Team Africon hail from Jomo Kenyatta University. Their platform of choice for development is Windows Phone 8, for its easy-to-use and cost-effective development framework.
What they created: Hero from the Past
What it does: Hero from the Past is a 3D, Windows Phone 8 game. It follows the story of a child on a quest to save the planet. The most innovative feature of the game is the ability to take your favourite characters and print them on a t-shirt!
Fun fact: Tunisia has competed in the Imagine Cup competition every year. This year, the country had over 500 entries from 1 000 participants – and Team NewGen came out on top!
Team Absoft Corp.,Senegal
What they created: EControl
What it does: EControl is an application that allows for remote monitoring, home automation and telemetry, by combining a bi-modular electronic device with Windows Phone or PC technology.
Team Win Programmers,Botswana
What they created: KLOK
What it does: KLOK is a tour and first-aid guide application. The app combines Bing Maps and Bing Weather to provide tourists with on-the-go weather updates, allowing them to check conditions before their outings and view alternative routes should the weather be bad. It also provides useful tips on how to respond to encounters with dangerous animals or poisonous plants.
Fun fact: KLOK is not an internet-based application. That means it’s reliable, anywhere!
What they created: Red Silence
What it does: Red Silence is a robot that is controlled only by blinking! It is designed to help paraplegics and quadriplegics complete various daily tasks that would otherwise be very difficult to do.
Fun fact: Team Red Silence is made up of three members from the Moroccan School of Engineering Science. This is the 6th year that Morocco has competed in the competition.
I am so proud and humbled to see the many teams who have and who are still representing Africa in this year’s competition. I’m also gratified to see more young women entering the coding world. These apps, games and solutions are all extraordinary, and are proof that the youth of Africa are passionate about making a difference in the world. I hope that their hard work encourages even more young students to join in the Imagine Cup competition next year – and show everyone that Africa can accelerate technology for the world.
Please join me in congratulating each and every one of the teams who took part.