Sixty developers from Africa and the Middle East have been chosen by Facebook in its Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge.

The contest was created to recognise and reward developers who create the most innovative new bots on the Messenger app in three categories: gaming and Entertainment, Productivity and Utility, and Social Good.

Developers, in teams of up to three people, were invited to create bots in three categories: gaming and entertainment; productivity and utility; and social good.

Ten teams per category were selected for North and Sub-saharan Africa and the Middle East, with each winning a Gear VR and mobile phone, one hour of Facebook mentorship, and tools and services from FbStart, a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile start-ups build and grow their bots. All student teams who made it to the finals won an additional $2 000.

One South African team, Poli, has been selected in the Social Good category. See all other finalists on the Challenge’s page.

Facebook will contact the finalists and connect them with a mentor. They’ll then need to resubmit their bots before midnight on 2nd June to qualify to win.

For each region, three runner-up teams (one from each category) will win $10 000 and three months of Facebook mentorship. For each region, three winning teams (one from each category) will win $20 000 and three months of Facebook mentorship.

“Facebook grew out of a hacker culture and thrives by promoting innovation on new platforms. That’s why we launched the Bots for Messenger Challenge, with the aim of rewarding entrepreneurs and developers for harnessing the power of bots to create amazing new services and apps,” said Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for the Middle East and Africa.

“We were overwhelmed to receive more than 1,000 entries over two and a half months for the Bots for Messenger Challenge from developers and entrepreneurs across the Middle East and Africa—each one of them solving a problem in an inventive way or enriching the lives of its target user,” Afigbo added.