Ayoba to host 'Code from Home’ hackathon

Lebone Mano
By Lebone Mano, junior journalist
Johannesburg, 27 Mar 2020
Ayoba CEO, Nolan Wolff.
Ayoba CEO, Nolan Wolff.

Ayoba, MTN's free instant messenger, is hosting a virtual hackathon and opening its platform to third-party developers for the first time.

Run together with the UCT Graduate School of Business (UCTGSB) Solution Space and Geekulcha, the online hack challenges developers and start-ups to "make creative use of the Ayoba platform to build services and solutions that meet the daily needs of African consumers and businesses".

The hackathon was due to take place in Cape Town early next month but has gone online amidst the coronavirus lockdown and is inviting developers to ‘Code from Home’. 

“The hackathon is the first time we’ll be opening our functionality to third-party developers," says Ayoba CEO, Nolan Wolff. "They’ll be able to leverage Ayoba APIs to deliver a personalised user experience.”

Ayoba is owned by MTN but operates as a standalone, fully-OTT company. The WhatsApp-like service is free-to-use for MTN Android subscribers, offering personalised services such as news and sports chanels for the network’s MEA consumers. A mobile money transfer service will soon be added.

Over four days, developers will have the opportunity to create micro-apps that will meet the daily needs of consumers. They will be given access to a developer sandbox and coaches providing tech, UX/UI and business support through webinars and Ayoba itself.

Ecosystem development GM at MTN, Eero Tarjanne says, “The developers know what to create. That’s why we’re opening up the platform to them."

Ayoba has over two million users across the network providers’ MEA markets, but "the plan is to get 16 million users on it. It’s about offering users the services they need now and figuring out how we make money later,” adds Tarjanne.

The hackathon will take place from 3-6 April.

The teams that develop winning solutions will receive complimentary co-working space at the Ayoba offices and be incubated by the Solution Space E-track incubation program, founded by the UCTGSB and MTN.

The top five teams will go on to compete for the R100 000 grand prize at a physical event that forms part of the hack but will take place at a later date.

To take part in the Ayoba Virtual Hackathon, visit