For many years now, Menlo Park-based social networking firm, Facebook Inc. has been promoting innovation across Middle East and Africa, providing startups with the tools they need to build, grow, monetize, and measure. Facebook grew out of a hacker culture, and they thrive on seeking out and promoting innovation on new platforms. That’s why they launched the Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge, a contest to recognize and reward developers who are able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger in the Middle East and Africa across these three categories: Gaming and Entertainment, Productivity and Utility, and Social Good.
The challenge ran from February 15th, 2017 to April 28th, 2017 where only 60 finalists were selected from the 1000 submissions that the company received. Out of the 60 finalists, 3 teams from Uganda; Mamas’ League, and Nutshell Bot who were in the Gaming and Entertainment category, and then DaktariHealth who were in the Social Good category made it to finals from the Sub-Saharan Africa.
They each won USD$2,000 (Roughly 7,250,000 UGX), a Gear VR, mobile phone, one hour of Facebook mentorship, and tools and services from FbStart, a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their bots.
1. Nutshell Bot: A Chat bot that gives you daily news headlines, and search for stories across Politics, Entertainment, Sports, World, Business, Gossip etc.
2. DaktariHealth: A Chat bot that helps you find Doctors, Hospitals, and Ambulance services near you.
3. Mamas’ League: A Chat bot for expectant and youth mothers to help them interact and gain health information along different stages of mother’s pregnancy.
Notably, last month Facebook took the honor to celebrate the achievements and products of its growing African developers and partner ecosystem at its recent ended annual F8 Developer Conference. They shared the stage with Facebook and developers from around the world, showcasing innovative products and services they have created for their local communities and the global market.
“We’re partnering with many African developers to launch products that not only meet the needs of their local markets, but which are also ready for the world stage,” says Emeka Afigbo; Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for the Middle East and Africa said during the event.
Facebook invited two representatives each from the winning teams in its previous Internet’s Innovation Challenge in Africa, and also invited four graduate students from Carnegie Melon University Africa in Rwanda who won the CMU-Africa Messenger Bot Hackathon, to attend the company’s annual developers event.