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Why you should sign-up for the MTN App Challenge

The MTN App Challenge will take place from 29th-31st May, 2015. One weekend of all-out geekery. Fast internet, no sleep, free food and the Mobile Money API! Seems like Ug geek heaven – all that’s missing is probably TV chicken and performances by Radio & Weasel. *cough* Tusaba ba organizer *cough*


Anha, what is it?

It is an opportunity for you to start something built on top of MTN’s architecture.

How does it work?

You, in your ninja costume, waltz in on Friday 29th with your laptop and an idea. After you wolf down some food (and put some in your laptop bag for later), you pitch your idea. Your idea is of course so hot, 3 other people will gravitate towards you even without knowing it. They’ll just find themselves drawn to you. You are now a team of 4: a developer, marketer, project manager & designer.
You get to work – planning, executing, fighting, silent treatment, back to planning, then executing…repeat.

You don’t notice the sun go down or come up. You only look up to eat food (and put some in your laptop bag for later).

Sunday’s here. You present your app to the judges (and the audience that can’t believe that awesome lives here here in Uganda). They are wowed. They, collectively, say “Wooowe, that’s going to blow up the Ug mobile space. Ayayayaya”. Your team wins. You smile for the cameras and give a speech thanking God and your team that’s lucky to have you. You’ll also thank your mentor throughout the app challenge, Peter Kakoma, for being such a profound help by  constantly showing you funny YouTube clips whenever you got stuck as a team.

Why should you join?

I did some research this morning on the costs of getting access to some of this stuff on your own.

SMS channel

  1. Apply for short code from UCC                 $250
  2. UCC Annual license fees for short code  $2,000
  3. Set-up fee for one telecom company    ~$3,500

USSD Channel

  1. Apply for service code from UCC                     $250
  2. UCC Annual license fee for service code        $10,000
  3. Set-up fee for one telecom company           ~ $350

Source: UCC Short code requirements

Android/IOS mobile applications

Deployment costs are negligible but integration to the telecom charging system to charge users’ airtime  (as one avenue of commercialization) requires a number of approvals (as you can imagine).

The challenge avails you all these channels. I think that all factors considered, it is a great opportunity for any start-up hoping to solve the commercialization puzzle.

Details of the challenge, in more serious lingo, can be found here: MTN App Challenge Details

If you want to go straight to registration, here’s the App Challenge Registration Form

Unrelated, I’m running a very very brief survey. 2 questions. It’ll take you less than a minute. Kindly fill it in here: Kakoma Survey

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