Orange launches developer challenge for African startups

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Mobile operator Orange has announced its latest developer challenge for startups in Africa, extending the programme to 13 countries across the continent as well as in France and the Middle East.

The opening of submissions coincides with the release of Orange’s SMS APIs in Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, Niger, Senegal. Orange said the challenge aims to spur and nurture the creation of unique and local services for Africa and the Middle East from the growing entrepreneurial base in these regions.

The challenge is open to startups from Egypt, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Congo, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cameroon and Botswana, as well as Jordan and France. Orange said it believed French startups could offer unique insight on the design and development of new services for users in Africa and the Middle East.

Submissions will be open from August 3 until September 15, with 10 startups from each country to be selected to compete until the end of October. Orange will make a trio of APIs – SMS, USSD and Direct Operator Billing – available on a test platform, with one winning project to be identified from each country and a global winner awarded a EUR10,000 (US$11,000) prize in November.

More than 90 developers from four African countries participated in last year’s challenge, resulting in a range of new services being launched. These included the winning project mLouma, a startup from Senegal that developed a portal for m-agriculture to connect buyers and sellers.

“Over 100 million of our customers are in Africa and the Middle East. With data usage and familiarity with smartphone services growing day by day, the region is ripe for innovation and we want to be a part of the process that makes a positive and meaningful impact on the lives of Africans,” said Marc Rennard, senior executive vice president for Africa and the Middle East at Orange.

“The two initiatives we are launching today are designed to nurture ideas generation and support local talent. Opening up Orange assets to these entrepreneurs are essential to help them innovate and succeed.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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