What Happened at Ghana’s First eCommerce Hackathon

After a successful developers conference in August this
year, we set an audacious task; to organize a hackathon. From the response we
received from MPower during our panel discussion at DevCongress, we decided to
partner with SMSGh to come up with the DevCongress MPower Payments API
It was a great time having developers dedicate their time to
build products on the MPower Payments API last Saturday, 5th
October, 2013. Don’t worry, we are aware the money was a major motivation too.
So we set off on our hackathon at about 10am at iSpace, mainly because
of some logistical issues, and developers didn’t arrive on time. By the time we
began, we had enough people to get the games going. For the developers who came
early, there was breakfast to cater for any eventualities.
As expressed earlier, some people came in their teams, as
others came to form teams at the event. The standard was at least 2 and at most
3 per team. In the end, almost all the teams which turned out were 3 in number.
For most of the developers, this was the first time they had
taken a look at the API, something I wouldn’t advise prior to a hackathon. Look
at it at least twice before the event. That’s not cheating!
The day began with an ideation session as the teams took
time to find ideas which they can integrate MPower Payments with. Then the
coding session began at about 11am.
So the developers hacked till about 3 pm when we took a
break for a code chat. This code chat was meant to keep all participants
abreast of what each team was up to. Since this was not an ideation
competition, the focus was on building a product so discussing your idea was
not a major hurdle. In the background, teams were called for interviews .
After the code chat, teams got back together, and continued
hacking. Right about that time, the mixologists and the DJ had started setting
up. DJ Adom also came in with lights. The mood for the party was already set!

At about 6pm, teams were asked to round up their work,
bringing the coding session to a close. This was followed by a reminder of the
rules and criteria by which the teams would be judged. So they were: 50% for
MPower integration, 30% for finishing the product, 10% for UI, and 10% for the
pitch itself.
At the end
of the pitches, the SpeedBanking team of First Capital Plus Bank, setup up a
short presentation as the teams took their rounds at the judges’ tables. In
all, the developers had put in a great deal of effort to build products in such
a short time.
After all the teams had gone through to the judges’ tables,
they spent a few minutes on the dance floor.
It wasn’t long after that the dancing was paused for the
final declarations.
At the end of the event, Fundr Africa came first, EasyFunds
second, while Caridad took the 3rd place. It was such a delight to
see on-screen as the cash prizes were disbursed into the developers’ MPower
accounts live. For bonus point, all teams were given the 2-week window to
complete and deploy their products and win GHC 500 instantly. How cool is that!
After the team presentations, MPower took the floor to
congratulate Alfred Rowe for his immense contribution to MPower Payments. The
previous day, MPower Payments had swooped several awards in 5 categories at
TopApps Award 2013, making SMSGh the App Company of the Year.
On the whole, there were not as many developers as one would
expect at a hackathon. However, the general participation of the developers who
were present was very encouraging.
We, the DevCongress team, are really grateful for the
interest expressed by the developers. We are glad you have set out on this
journey with us; we promise to deliver the best content for software developers
in Ghana. #LetsDoThis