Hackathon makes grand entry at Global expo 2019

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana’s Global Expo (GEB) 2019 saw the introduction of GEB Hackathon 2019. Participants were expected to create technologies and or solutions to address the country’s current economic challenges. The Hackathon was a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others including subject matter experts collaborated intensively on software projects during the expo.

According to the organisers, the purpose of organizing the [email protected] GEB2019 was among other things to showcase the talents of entrepreneurs and software developers in Botswana to attendees of GEB 2019, dignitaries, funders and local and international media, provide the opportunity to show that Batswana are capable of coming up with creative solutions to unique challenges within a short period of time. 

Speaking to biztechafrica, one of the organisers of the event, who interestingly is from South Africa, Reuben Maswela said of the event. “There is skills shortage and we have lots of pain points that can be solved by technology. Although our tertiary education is doing its part, the graduates are not industry ready to produce solutions for the masses. BITC had a Hackathon idea and they needed somebody who had experience in participating and hosting Hackathon events.”

Maswela said they managed to get sponsorships from BOFINET which is the Botswana Fiber Network, and the organisation then united them with Botswana Investment and Trade Centre, who are the custodian of the GEB.  “From there on they looked at the profiles of the participants and they gave me the go ahead to organize the event,” he added.

The theme of the event was “Public transport in the city lacks systematic routine and monitoring which result in an inconvenience to locals. What is your solution to solving this incorporating hotspots and WIFI! Based on that how do we make it more efficient using disruptive technologies?"

The participants had 48 hours to come up with solutions. Maswela said they had more interested people than the number they had intended. “All in all we had 130 applications and we selected only 30. We wanted to have diverse skills for example we have accountants, and those that work in the hospitality industry, we also looked at what you had built before and  looked at your GITHUB profile, besides checking whether one has participated at a Hackathon before because we wanted to know those that were experts and those that were not.”

Judges at the 2 day event were drawn from those very internationally eminent persons in the field of technology whose credentials were impeccable. The likes of Henrik von Scheel, who is best known as the originator of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the mastermind of the European Digital Revolution from Germany. He was also named by the Financial Times as one of the leading authority on strategy and competitiveness. 

From Botswana, Thathayaone Dichaba was the choice. Dichaba is the founder of Dichaba Group, a company that own Ditec Mobile which is a mobile phone manufacturing company in Botswana. 

Joon Lee, who is the founder and CEO of Africa Code Academy was also there to oversee the processes. With over 20 years in the software industry, he has worked to develop software used by many Fortune 500 companies around the world.  

The Hackathon winning teams scooped prizes of between $1000.00 and $5000.00. the event will come again next year.  


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