BlackBerry Jam Session Super Hackathon – Africa

BlackBerry Jam

Here’s a guest post from Luca Sale – Ed.

It may have been the warm weather, the great food or the inspiring scenery but the developers of South Africa couldn’t have a picked a better time or place for the first BlackBerry® Jam Session Super Hackathon in Africa!

It was truly a remarkable event with people flying from Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and different parts of South Africa. To make the event even more challenging we decided to hold a multi-city hackathon: with the help of our two BlackBerry Apps Lab Managers in Pretoria and Cape Town we established a video call session so that attendees and technical resources could interact and share experiences.

The event kicked off early in the morning when, after some caffeine and calories, everyone had enough energy to function and start the brainstorming.

There were 11 teams with one team, @NegatronDev, working on two apps at the same time!

And at the end of the day, only three teams could put their hands on the prize. I had the opportunity to spend some time with all the teams and got to know them better


Best App – ReserveMe – Flying Solo (Leon Van Dyk)

Since joining our BlackBerry Jam World Tour back in July, Leon’s involvement with the BlackBerry platform has grown and he has actively participated with the activities in the BlackBerry Apps Lab in Pretoria.

“I registered for the hackathon to support the local community of developers, not only within Cape Town but also Southern Africa. The opportunity to meet local developers and network was a huge bonus with a few friendships being made before I left. I also wanted to test my BlackBerry skills and to partake in the first Jam Session Super Hackathon in Africa!” says Leon who has become quite familiar now with BlackBerry development –  “I have developed one app that involves managing events and is heavily integrated into the BlackBerry 10 experience. I intend on continuing to develop ReserveMe and refine it a bit more until it reaches my personal quality requirements as well as BlackBerry’s . I plan to have both apps in the store before launch”.

Best Design – SnapMenu – Backspace (Ndivhuwo Nthambeleni, Vutlhari Rikhotso, Eugene Masinga)

Backspace is a team based in Pretoria who decided to create a menu app for students who have a tight budget and want a wide choice of fast food.  Vutlhari told me “I get all my app ideas from problems that I face, so the idea came from a constant irritation of having to look at the display menus in restaurants.”

Coding is their passion, “I love coding, I love designing, I love apps and I love people. I subscribe to the school of thought that believes software should be free unless it makes the receiving party money. I joined because I want to aid in enhancing the experience of using a BlackBerry 10 device”.

Vutlhari is currently working on a BlackBerry 10 application that will be released soon and he’s finding the BlackBerry Apps Lab in Pretoria to be extremely useful “Yes, the lab for one has been one of the greatest things about developing for BlackBerry, along with the people, the access to tools and internet. They all have been a major help in learning BlackBerry development”

Best e-commerce – BizFinder – BrightLabs (Kehiloe Sereo, Dintle Sealetsa)
BrightLabs came all the way from Botswana to represent their development studio. They are already familiar to the BlackBerry platform having developed an app for BlackBerry OS devices called ‘ekse!’.  They decided to attend the hackathon as that was “…an unmissable opportunity to have our first ‘live’ BlackBerry event experience and join in on the fun” says Dintle.

So how do they feel about being one of the winners?

“Winning app? We still can’t get used to the sound of that! We were more than happy to just submit anything really. We brainstormed some ideas – some crazy, some colorful – until we settled on the idea we thought was easy and quick to hack, usable and of value to the user”

And it’s a pleasure to hear that they think “the BlackBerry developer community is what makes the platform fun to develop on. And BlackBerry has done great in offering these developers top-notch support and development, and a robust set of tools to work with. Happy developers are a result of a happy and fun platform and ecosystem – KUDOS!”

And when the sun was down it was time to pack everything up and head home.  The adrenaline was still high but some devs had a long way to go before being able to reach their bed.

And to sum this up “One can see huge amounts of effort was put into the event and I would like to thank everyone who participated into making it a reality and I hope to see them soon”


Not our words but we could say exactly the same!  Big thanks to the BlackBerry Apps Lab Manager of Pretoria, Jacques Du Toit, and Cape Town, Glenn Stein, for supporting us throughout the event.

And last but not least, Lany Sommers, Senior Business Development Manager, whose mastermind is responsible for building the state-of-the-art BlackBerry Apps Lab facilities across the region says ‘The talent in South Africa is overwhelming.  A HUGE thank you to all who made the event happen and for all those who participated.  What a way to inaugurate the launch of our lab in Cape Town!’

Next African stop: Nairobi, Kenya (Nov 17)
See you there!

Luca (@BlackBerryLuca) & Michael (@mweitzel)

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