Google Gadget Competition in East Africa Begins

Google has kicked off the inaugural gadget competition for students in East Africa and will announce a winner in August.

In the next four months, Google expects students enrolled at universities in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi to work on their ideas and submit functioning gadgets on July 14.

A large number of students from the region registered and submitted their gadget ideas by April 4, the deadline for submissions, according to Louise Welch, Google's project manager for Global University Programs

"We have enjoyed broad participation from students and universities across East Africa. We cannot release exact numbers for confidentiality reasons, but we've had robust participation across the board," Welch said.

While the competition seeks innovative gadgets that can be used globally, it is also encouraging the development of gadgets for local use.

"There is no formula to what makes a good gadget, but there are certainly things to think about when creating one. Does it provide useful and frequently updated information? Or does it provide service that people will need to use frequently? Is it diverting? Fun? Attractive?" Google notes in the advertisement sent to participating universities.

The gadgets will be judged on their functionality, including gadget completeness, cleanly written code and technical sophistication. Ease of use and design scalability of design and originality are also judging criteria.

The categories the devices can win include best education specific gadget, most technically sophisticated gadget and gadget most likely to get international traffic

Students participating in the competition will receive a Gadget Winners Certificate, a Google shirt, pen and notebook. Five students will receive a US$350 stipend and one student will receive a $600 stipend.

Regarding use of language, Welch was noncommittal about whether Google is encouraging development of gadgets that can use local language or whether all gadgets must be in English. Ethiopia's national language is Amharic and Tanzania uses mainly Kiswahili, which is also widely used in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

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