Tech

The Minister of Communications places hackathons at the heart of the creation of the “ 4IR army ”

If the government does not trust the solutions produced by young South Africans, it means that we will continue to consume what already exists.

This was stated by the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, speaking to ITWeb after one of the entities of her department – NEMISA – virtually hosted the second installment of its data science hackathon.

Across the world, hackathons – also known as hack days or hack fests – have emerged as powerful mechanisms for emerging innovations co-created and technology-enabled to address specific business and social challenges.

In South Africa, hackathons have gained ground in recent years, with a number of organizations – both in the private and public spheres – hosting these events aimed at cultivating ICT talent and finding solutions to meet certain challenges. of today’s challenges.

In the local context, hackathons have been held to find technological solutions to issues such as the scourge of gender-based violence, foster early childhood development, find COVID-19 solutions, and address service delivery challenges. audiences, to name a few.

Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Ndabeni-Abrahams believes that if innovations, some of which emanate from these hackathons, are not cultivated, then it stagnates the country or any government in terms of innovation.

“If you look at the private sector, there are innovators, every time hackers – looking for new ways to diversify their businesses or make sure their businesses are successful.

“As the South African government, we must be proud of the fact that we have young people who have great talent who can provide solutions to the problems we face.”

The NEMISA hackathon, a multi-stakeholder partnership of provincial governments, higher education institutions, youth educators, digital technology experts and data science enthusiasts, sought to engage with government data to unearth insights likely to inform political decisions.

The minister said the COVID-19 challenge called on organizers to come up with an inclusive approach to hosting the hackathon, which saw 860 participants across the country join the virtual event.

Participants looked at local government policies, water issues and other topics. “They did what they knew best and they came up with some great solutions.

“Collectively, we can work together and find solutions, not only to meet challenges, but also to create jobs for others.”

She reiterated that such initiatives are in line with the department’s mandate to build an “army capable of 4IR”, producing scientists and data technicians.

The ministry of Ndabeni-Abrahams has set a target to train one million unemployed young people in data science and related skills, to enable them to fill the jobs of the future.

Local organizations that have also championed the hackathon landscape believe that these events not only provide an opportunity to use technology for good, but also a way for young people to build something new and disruptive.

Marietjie Engelbrecht, head of marketing at the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative, says hackathons remain one of the best ways to stimulate ideas and work on innovative solutions for specific problems.

“Compared to traditional innovation management processes, hackathons have clear advantages,” notes Engelbrecht. “Anyone can participate and they are really inclusive, agile and foster multidisciplinary collaboration – especially they have shorter innovation cycles.

“In addition to generating new ideas and sustaining a business, hackathons help reduce product development risk, improve employee engagement and retention, find great talent, drive innovation. and customer-centric engagement, accelerating the speed of innovation and problem solving, improving collaboration between teams, saving money through R&D and building community, brand and leadership. “

Anna Collard, SVP content strategy and evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa, agrees that innovation challenges and hackathons provide the foundation for true problem solving and broadening creative thinking skills.

A security awareness training company, KnowBe4 Africa is part of the public-private sector collaboration that brought the Gov-X innovation challenge.

Collard explains, “Inspired by the X-Prize Foundation, we believe solutions can come from anyone, anywhere – they just need to be nurtured. The benefits are not just the potential list of ideas and innovations submitted, but the positive side effects these programs bring to participants and everyone involved.

Usually targeted at young people or students, hackathons allow participants to dig deep into real life issues, to understand what it means to go through an ideation process, which is a life skill that they will benefit from later in their career. career, as well as to connect them. with a network of mentors and senior members of our industry, says Collard.

“In an ever-changing digital world, we need to collaborate more between industry, government and young people to find solutions to the complex problems facing our societies.

“No single entity can solve these problems on its own, but by encouraging collaborative initiatives we may have the opportunity to create lasting effects and establish much-needed channels of communication between all parties involved. It is also a way to encourage young people to choose a career path in areas they may not have thought of yet, such as cybersecurity; for example, in the Gov-X challenge. ”

Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 AFRICA.

Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 AFRICA.

Evren Albaş, CEO of Defy Appliances, adds that hackathons offer immense value to all stakeholders and create an exciting platform for students, businesses, innovators, thought leaders and thought leaders.

“It also fosters a culture of innovation to solve difficult and complex problems for businesses and consumers.”

Device maker Defy prepares to welcome its Hack normal online hackathon, which aims to explore how technology can be harnessed for sustainable living and economic development in Africa.

Stephen Osler, director of business development at Nclose, says hackathons are a great way to expose general community challenges to a large number of individuals or teams, with the intention of solving them creatively.

“South Africa has a number of challenges and the whole country needs to help resolve these issues. Hackathons also create a culture of problem-solving, which is an imperative skill in the workplace. “

Regarding the commercialization of some of the solutions of the hackathons, for the government, Ndabeni-Abrahams says there is no reason not to tell the state IT agency to incubate some of the innovators and test some of their solutions.

“Ours is to say that we are looking for government solutions. You will need people who need to be able to say – how do you turn those ideas into practical solutions? The only way is to pilot them.

“Give young people a chance, involve them internally, give them an office and an allowance, and work them,” she concludes.

The Minister of Communications places hackathons at the heart of the creation of the “ 4IR army ”

Source link The Minister of Communications places hackathons at the heart of the creation of the “ 4IR army ”

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