Published on Arab Voices

Join the Cairo transport app challenge!

ImageIt has been a year since WaterHackathon Cairo took place, bringing together Egyptian technologists with water specialists to brainstorm innovative ICT solutions for Egypt’s biggest water challenges. Since then, one of the WaterHackathon winners—Team Abu Erdan—has successfully turned their idea for a mobile farming tool linked to the cloud into a full-fledged mobile platform; it empowers Egyptian farmers to increase efficiency in irrigation and pesticide control in a cost-effective way. 

Following the Arab Spring, WaterHackathon Cairo presented an opportunity for the World Bank to do things differently. It helped to reach a wider set of stakeholders, engage local communities interested in shaping the future of their country, and facilitate unusual partnerships among young Egyptian technologists and water experts, all with the goal of collectively addressing Egypt’s development challenges.

Among these Egyptian technologists were Ahmed Marzouk, Islam Khalil and Ramy Hegazy who had previously worked together through an organization called Centrivision. They had few expectations as they entered the Hackathon and decided to form a team called Abu Erdan, named after the egret bird, considered a farmer’s friend. At the end of the hackathon, Abu Erdan impressed the judges and went on to win prizes from Pepsico, Nokia mLab, Farm Frites and TA Telecom. As the World Bank’s Country Director for Egypt, A. David Craig, pointed out: “There are a lot of great ideas and now they need to be incubated and turned into reality.” Abu Erdan and its platform have emerged as such a reality.


Given the success of Abu Erdan, the World Bank is now hoping to engage the same talent and energy among Egyptian developers to address Cairo’s pressing transport problem through the Cairo Transport App Challenge. Transport and traffic conditions present a particularly serious problem for Cairo and a priority for the new government: around 16,000 people die in car accidents each year; harassment on public transportation is the biggest deterrent for women to utilize this mode of transport; and private vehicles account for 70% of traffic with an average of 1.3 people per car (with a projected four-fold increase in commuting time by 2015 to 135 minutes).

Launched on September 15, 2012, the Cairo Transport App Challenge is an open collaboration among technology and transport stakeholders including Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, dotopen and AppCircus, Google Developer Group Cairo, Google, MicrosoftOrange, Vodafone Egypt, TA Telecom, Green Arm, Alashanek Ya Balady, Bey2ollak, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, Information Technology Institute, Information Technology Industry Development Agency, Egypreneurs, German University in Cairo, Wamda and Arabnet.

Hopefully, this initiative will serve as “ an essential starting point to make the IT community in Egypt aware of using intelligent transport solutions to solve Egypt’s traffic problems,” says Khaled El-Araby, Professor of Transport Planning & Traffic Engineering at Ain Shams University.

We invite any software, web developer, designer or anyone with a good idea to join the Challenge! Finalists will be announced at the end of November. Participants can win cash prizes and even gain exposure to global industry leaders at the Mobile Premier Awards in 2013, potentially impacting millions through their apps in Cairo and elsewhere.

Finalists have now been selected (November 2012) and the Award Ceremony will take place in February 2013.



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