Guest post from Georgina – Ed.
Following the huge success of the BlackBerry® 10 Jam event in Cape Town, South Africa in July, Research In Motion® (RIM®) held a BlackBerry 10 ‘Mini’ Jam roadshow in Lagos, Nigeria at the CcHub and in Nairobi, Kenya at at the Ole Sereni Hotel in late August.
BlackBerry continues to grow from strength to strength in Africa, and both BlackBerry® 7 OS and BlackBerry 10 represent a massive opportunity for African mobile developers. BlackBerry is the number 1 smartphone vendor in Africa (Canalys Smartphone Data, Q2 2012) and is the top-selling smartphone in South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. As well as a huge local community, African developers have the opportunity to reach a global audience of over 78 million BlackBerry customers. Africa is in the midst of a smartphone revolution, and BlackBerry is leading the charge, creating huge opportunities for the African mobile development community and students aspiring to new opportunities.
The events, which gave mobile developers a chance to learn more about the unique capabilities of BlackBerry 10, underlined the importance of the African developer community to RIM. Collectively, around 130 developers participated, learning about the BlackBerry 10 experience, architecture and the tools and resources available to create locally relevant apps for the BlackBerry platform. Some attendees were new to mobile development, so the sessions also provided a great opportunity to learn about skills and job opportunities in the African mobile industry.
Waldi Wepener, Regional Director for East, West and Central Africa at Research In Motion, said: “The enthusiasm and excitement at our BlackBerry 10 events in Africa was palpable, especially during the app competitions where we rewarded the winners with some very innovative app ideas. The technology hubs in Kenya and Lagos are a hotbed of talent and we are pleased to support the growing mobile development communities here. Africa is part of a growing list of regions around the world creating apps for our new platform.”
There is already a very established BlackBerry developer community in Africa. In Kenya, Avallain Africa just launched a mobile health app for BlackBerry smartphone users, which allows users to quickly and easily find trusted health information and resources from any location in Kenya. In Nigeria, local developers have designed a number of apps for current BlackBerry models, including the Nigerian Constitution App by Pledge51 for access to important constitutional information; SeeAm, to find the location of all ATMs throughout Nigeria; and the EssentialApp, a free-to-download BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) integrated app that provides a useful guide for entertainment and day-to-day life in Nigeria. (Hear more from Nigerian developers about why they develop for BlackBerry!)
Nigerian developers queue for BlackBerry 10
Some 70 Nigerian developers attended the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam in Lagos and the excitement about the new BlackBerry 10 platform was plain to see. They were queuing up to share ideas and mingle with other BlackBerry developers.
Delegates choose “Make We Bet” as the most innovative application in a competition, with the creator winning a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha prototype device for mobile development, and a BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet. William Ukoh (@williamukoh), the creator of “Make We Bet” said: “For years, BlackBerry has been an appealing platform for my colleagues and I. The experience of meeting with my peers and learning more about the BlackBerry platform has been worthwhile.”
Femi Longe, a Co-Founder of the CcHub added: “We were impressed after seeing what BlackBerry 10 has to offer, and we are excited by an even closer look at the platform and its capabilities at the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam sessions in Lagos. At CcHub, we have strong ties with the developer community and encouraging development is our goal. We’re eager to start using the updated user interface features offered by Cascades™ in BlackBerry 10, and we look forward to enriching the user experience to ensure our BlackBerry-based solutions and applications remain attractive and cutting-edge.”
High interest in Kenya
The BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam developer event in Nairobi drew more than 50 developers. The keen attendance, interest and eager interaction by the developers showed that the Kenyan developer community is excited about and ready for BlackBerry 10.
Developers at the event praised BlackBerry 10 and the Mini Jam event. George Murage, Business Developer and Blogger for Juuchini, said: “The one-on-one expert guidance on creating BlackBerry 10 apps from the RIM team will enable local developers to build better mobile apps in various languages, and more importantly, help build an ecosystem to support Kenyan consumers when BlackBerry 10 launches.”
“I am thrilled the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam has offered me the opportunity to interact and know more about BlackBerry 10 experience. It has been one of the most inspiring experience and learnings for me,” added Eric Omondi, from the Africa Solidarity Volunteer Foundation.
Grace Kihumba, Business Developer at Strathmore University iLab, said: “The experience has been an eye-opener for me. A few years ago, when I was developing apps for BlackBerry they didn’t have many applications and it’s quite fascinating to see how far they have come with the new platforms. I have been deeply motivated to develop more apps for BlackBerry.”
One of the most exciting recent developments for the Kenyan developer community, the iAfya app, created a lot of buzz at BB10 Mini Jam Kenya. Dr Allan Makenzi, MD of Avallain Africa, attended to talk about the iAfya app and the importance and opportunity for developers in the mobile health sector. He praised BlackBerry for providing a platform that is bringing services such as healthcare information closer to African consumers.
Here’s Dr. Makenzi addressing developers at the Nairobi event:
We can’t wait to see what comes from our Kenyan and Nigerian developer communities in the coming months. To see more of the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam event in Nigeria, click here and for Kenya, click here.