The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is holding its inaugural Hackathon from 5 to 7 February 2020, at Kadoma Hotel and Conference Centre, under the theme “#Hack4SmartSustainableCities”.
Participants for the two-day event have been drawn from local universities and so far nine (9) universities have confirmed their participation.
The Hackathon concept has been adopted in line with the recommendations of the report prepared by the Zimbabwe delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2019 (WSIS Forum 2019), and the success of the Zimbabwean team of students that participated in the Hackathon that was held during the event.
POTRAZ is making use of the experience gained during WSIS Forum 2019 to organise Zimbabwe’s own Hackathons which will focus on solving the economic and social problems affecting the country.
The word Hackathon comes from blending the words Marathon and Hack, where marathon refers to performing a long or difficult activity in a short period, and Hack refers to exploratory computer programming.
During a Hackathon, participants spend a short period of time, usually between 24-48 hours (can go up to a week), building, creating and delivering an ICT solution to a specified problem.
The idea is to collaboratively code computer programs by starting from scratch and ending up with a working prototype.
This is usually done in the form of a competition, where teams of computer programmers, developers, designers, subject matter experts and project managers come together to design and build software solutions to solve real-life problems.
Hackathons are a great opportunity to put together a large number of people to address the same problem and watch how ideas and results flow.
Adoption of the Hackathon concept by POTRAZ is expected to increase the number of innovators benefiting under the Innovation Drive.
Since inception, the Innovation Drive has been assisting innovators in the form of loans and only a few proposals that had running projects or bankable prototypes have so far qualified for support under the programme.
Most proposals received from innovators were still at the ideation stage and failed to convince the adjudicators that they would be able to repay the loans.
Adoption of the Hackathon concept will make it possible for the Innovation Drive to provide seed capital to innovators whose projects are still at the ideation stage, in the form of grants.
The team that will emerge as the overall winner in the Hackathon will represent the country at the Hackathon that will be held during the 2020 World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS Forum 2020), which will be hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in Geneva, Switzerland from 5 to 9 April 2020.
The team’s participation will be fully sponsored by POTRAZ.
The top three teams will also walk away with prizes for the team members and support for the innovation hubs at their universities.
Last year POTRAZ sponsored a team of three students from some of our universities to a similar event, and that group did the country proud when it scooped the first prize in that international Hackathon.