Kampala, Uganda— Cellphone usage is expanding in Sub-Saharan Africa, and paving the way for information and communication technologies (ICT) to modernize and boost productivity in the region’s agricultural sector. Apps like Kilimo Salama, which provides farmers with updated climate data, as well as Vet Africa, which helps diagnose livestock diseases, are already transforming farmers’ lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. Up to 90% of farmers polled by e-Learning Africa credit ICT with improving food security in their region.
And there’s potential for ICT to do even more, which is why farmers are clamoring for more innovations. “ICT is making big gains in Africa, and at the same time, there is great potential for innovation in the agriculture sector,” explains Dina Umali- Deininger, Practice Manager for East Africa with the World Bank’s Agriculture Global Practice. “ICT can be a powerful tool for farmers by facilitating learning, connecting farmers to markets or providing crucial information.”
The World Bank aims to help jumpstart agricultural innovation by hosting #Hack4Ag in Kampala, Uganda. Supported by funding from South Korea, the hackathon brings together young people from Uganda and South Korea, as well as innovators, developers, farmers and other partners to dream up innovative ways of using mobile technology to help farmers. “The vast majority of Ugandans are farmers,” says Christina Malmberg Calvo, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda. “ICT holds great promise to engage youth in the much needed transformation of the country’s agriculture sector.”
The hackathon will comprise 9 teams with 4 members per team--3 Ugandans and 1 South Korean. Thirty-six shortlisted finalists will develop mobile app prototypes to address agricultural challenges that will be identified during farmer field visits. The prototypes will then be judged by an expert panel of judges during a pitch session. "We are happy to be a part of this World Bank led initiative aimed at using technology to improve farming experiences through generating practical solutions for the farming community,” emphasizes H.E. Park Jong-Dae, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Uganda.
The winning team will have the opportunity to make a lasting contribution to Uganda’s agriculture sector—their app will be developed further, and implemented as one component of an ongoing World Bank-financed project of Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries. The winning team will receive continuous mentorship during the implementation process, even long after the hackathon has been completed. They will also be trained on entrepreneurship and product marketing—skills that can grow their careers as ICT professionals. Working with a team from South Korea, Ugandan developers have the chance to build synergies and find areas of potential collaboration, including training and exchange opportunities.