Apps4Africa Climate Challenge brainstorming: Learning from the non-geeks

We just returned from the Apps4Africa Climate Challenge brainstorming session that was being held today in Harare. The event is part of the US sponsored 2011 climate change app development contest that’s now running for the Southern Africa region from 1 February to 30 March. The brainstorming session was held to help participants share and consider the various climate change issues especially from people and organisations that are actively involved in the work.

The event was also an opportunity for developers to bounce ideas off each other and also, more importantly for non-developers – that deal with these issues every day and already have ideas as a result – to partner developers to come up with app solutions for the challenge. Developers also got the opportunity of being taken through the challenge entry procedures on the Apps4Africa web platform.

The brainstorming session was facilitated by Apps4Africa representative Mariéme Jamme, the SpotOne Global Solutions CEO.


As usual, we found this opportunity for developers and entrepreneurs to meet quite exciting. But this wasn’t just developers here; in fact the non-developers constituted about 80% of the 60 something people at the event. And this made it so much more enriching. There were officials from City of Harare, NGO representatives, journalists, , climate change specialists and other such individuals who don’t look at the issues from the strictly tech angle that tends to blinker geeks sometimes. It was easy to see that because of this, the ideas that were thrown around were practical solutions that just needed the tech side to implement.

Solutions ranged from SMS-based apps, USSD solutions for disseminating information, suggestions to implement games as a way of making it participatory and interesting, radio-based programs, podcasts for people that can’t access Zimbabwe radio signals, mobile based quizzes awarding points to individuals that participate, connecting agriculture specialists to people needing information about climate change via mobile and other things.

Jamme also explained at the event that developers and non-developers with ideas can also be connected by Apss4Africa to specialist developers outside the country if they needed any additional skills to enhance the basic prototypes that they submit for the challenge.

We took a few photos of the proceedings. Here below:

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11 thoughts on “Apps4Africa Climate Challenge brainstorming: Learning from the non-geeks

  1. “As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”

    “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.” From the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s report “Livestock’s Long Shadow”

    Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: and

    1. I disagree that eating meat is a major contributor. It is largely population growth as opposed to eating meat. The contribution is very small. With proper livestock farming activities, you can reuse the same land rotating feeding grounds or paddocks. Combined with growing nitrogen-enriching plants, you can restore soild fertility and provide fodder for the animals.

  2. How come I only hear about these events after the event? Please send us an email before event.

  3. Nice pictures. too bad i missed it. Anyway of of getting what shared at the event. is there like a full report of the whole brainstorming and ideas suggested for the competition?

    1. yes please will also be interested in a report for some of us who could not attend. @L.S.M Kabweza, is there something like that please, and who can we contact to get hold of it?

        1. @kabweza:disqus Do you, by any chance, know the reason this event was held this close to the submission deadline (March 30, AFAIK)? It’s a little late into the game to be doing brainstorming… just my 2 cent’s worth.

          1. Didn’t think 30 March was near enough for this to be a problem so didn’t ask. Sorry.

            Marieme Jamme will go facilitate similar sessions in Botswana and Madagascar (Namibia too I think), and I think those are the guys that may feel they haven’t been given enough time.

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