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Google thrusts cash at developers in emerging countries

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Google is preparing to dispense a couple of hundred thousand dollars in prizes for developers in emerging countries who are willing to take its cloudy platform for a spin.

The Google Cloud Developer Challenge was announced by the Chocolate Factory on Thursday, and sees the ad-backed search behemoth offer developers from around the world the chance to win $20,000 for an app focused on either enterprise, small business solutions, education, or nonprofits, or ones revolving around social and personal productivity, games, or "fun".

Calling all funtrepreneurs – your time is now.

"We're inviting you to build locally relevant web applications that solve real world problems," Google program manager Chukwuemeka Afigbo wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. "You will have the opportunity to wow the world with your awesome web application built on Google App Engine using Google APIs like the Google+, YouTube and Maps APIs."

Each category carries a $20,000 prize, and Google will take entries from six regions of the world, including Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Middle East and North Africa, India, and "Rest of the World". The company is also paying out $3,000 to any all-female, all-student teams that make it to the second round of the competition.

The competition opens on October 22nd, when developers can apply for $2,000 of Google Cloud Platform credit using the promo code gcpdc-in. The pack gives them $1,000 to spend on Google's App Engine platform, and $1,000 for its infrastructure-as-a-service Google Compute Engine service.

Besides the cloud competition, Google has a range of initiatives targeting developing countries via its philanthropic organization Google.org, which doles out free access to a bevy of Google technologies to organizations around the world.

One possible drawback to the Chocolate Factory's cloud competition could be the woeful state of net connectivity in the developing world. Though a variety of submarine cables are coming online to hook up Africa and the Middle East, broadband penetration is fairly low, and in rural areas dial-up is prevalent, somewhat reducing the utility of a data-hungry cloud app. But then again, if Google's absolutely bonkers balloon-served internet system – Project Loon – gets underway, that problem may evaporate into the clouds. ®

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