Innovation and Creativity Shine at Vodaphone’s App Star Challenge

Published Nov-24-14

An adventure game, a movie app and a simplified way of solving maths problems win a prestigious international apps challenge.

Vodaphone, Kenya

The Story:

Innovation and Creativity Shine at Vodaphone’s App Star Challenge Open innovation and crowdsourcing challenges provide problem solvers with numerous opportunities. Whether or not they win, their talents are given exposure to a wider audience they might not otherwise have come into contact with.

Open Innovation is Opportunity Central

The Vodaphone App Star Challenge is an international open innovation contest to bolster creativity among developers and to find innovative software applications. The annual contest involves participants from several countries across the Asian and African continents. Among the countries represented are Kenya, India, Ghana and Tanzania. The challenge gives developers an opportunity to exhibit their talents to a global audience. The visibility is good for start-ups as well as large enterprises that are talent spotting for bright minds.

Competition Stages

Typically, the Vodaphone App Star Challenge consists of two stages. The first is a nationwide contest in each of the participating countries and this is followed by a round that features the best two developers from each country.

In 2013, more than 3,000 people took part and over 500 submissions were made. Participants were required to develop apps for Android, J2ME, Windows Phone 8, iOS and BlackBerry. The software solutions had to address challenges that were relevant to a country’s needs and included such categories as financial inclusion, health, education and games and productivity. In addition to this, they had to be able to be customized for use in other territories.

Three Big Winners

The overall winner was a wildlife adventure game called ‘Tough Jungle’ by Gerald Kibugi, an app developer from Kenya. Three people spent just three months developing the app which sees users navigating hazards such as landmines as they move through the Kenyan Jungle. For his novel app, Gerald Kibugi was awarded a check for $25,000. "The money that I’ve won will go back into the application to polish it up," said Kibugi. More than a game, it also introduces players to Kenyan culture and history.

Second place went to another Kenyan, Gilbert Rono for his 'Eureka' app. He received $15,000 for a neat program that simplifies the methodology of maths problem solving techniques such as Calculus and Algebra.

The $10,000 third place winner was Rudolph Joubert from South Africa for ‘Ster-Kinekor’. The app is for movie fans to find out what's on in Ster-Kinekor and Nouveau cinemas in South Africa. Among the features are interactive seating plans and high quality trailers.


All of the winning apps were launched in app stores and made available to a global audience of consumers. In so doing, the crowdsourced contest achieved some of its other aims. Namely to accelerate the development of apps in local markets and to help foster an entrepreneurial culture, something that could lead to job opportunities in the not too distant future.

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