The UJ Technopreneurship Centre (TPC) within the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems in the College of Business and Economics (CBE) participated in an international Hackathon – (Hacklab 2021) organised by the Hacklab Foundation which was hosted in Accra, Ghana from the 9 - 11 April 2021.
The Hacklab Foundation is an international non-profit organisation headquartered in Ghana with focus on preparing the youth for future digital jobs through technology education and skills development. It is the biggest Innovation Hackathon in West Africa.
The theme of the hackathon was Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to drive Digital Transformation in Africa, which saw 1000+ participants including developers, engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, development partners, industry partners and other stakeholders in technology to meet and discuss critical issues regarding the Global South, identify opportunities, and develop tech-enabled solutions for emerging economies.
The virtual Hackathon hosted 43 teams in total, four of which were from the University of Johannesburg. The names of the teams were Binary Wolves, Technoprenuers, siSharp, and UJ Hackers. Participating in their first international competition, the 16 students within the four UJ teams had to adapt to different time zones and had to overcome technical challenges such as integrating an AI stack and IBM Watson in their solution.
However, the hard work and late nights paid off, with two UJ teams, Technopreneurs and Binary Wolves, taking top spot in two categories:
- Technopreneurs - "Best AI Solution in Big Data". Members of the team are Emmauel Mbuya, Buhle Mpala, Chadrack Mulamba, Eugene Ndlovu and Olwethu Mlimi who are all studying towards a Business Information Technology Diploma.
- Binary Wolves - "Best AI Solution in the Healthcare". Members of the team are, Aaron Kibambe, Patience Mokokota, Janice Nsunza, and Tumelo Baloyi who are also all studying towards a Business Information Technology Diploma.
The two winning teams will be receiving the following prizes: Full Scholarship for AI Accelerator from GIZ (Ghana); Grand cover for start-up incorporation legal advisory; GHC 3000 seed grand for start-up; IBM Cloud for 1 year; SMS credit for Africa's Taking and the Souvenirs from Vodafone Ghana .
The Head of the UJ TPC Ronny Mabokela thanked all team members that participated in what was the first international hackathon since the inception of the UJ TPC. Said Mr Mabokela, ''I am delighted that we emerged the best in two very important categories such as AI solution for Big Data and AI solution for HealthCare. The fact that our students were declared the second overall winners, shows that we are indeed prepared to disrupt the status quo. We are going to learn from the Hackathons to develop even more powerful solutions".
Mr Mabokela added that, "As the Centre we need to have more start-ups with AI solutions to address societal challenges. It's no longer news that AI is the main driver of the 4IR and meanwhile it is not a new concept – over the decades computers have been programmed by humans to make decisions on available facts. What is different now, is the advancement of technologies that are machine learning driven. As more rich data is produced at a skyrocketing speed, it only makes sense that Africa should start embracing AI and spotting opportunities because there are many benefits such as deepening democracy, improving service delivery and strengthening the economic landscape".