Three Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) students walked away with a $1 million grand prize of the inaugural Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) hackathon held in Kadoma last Friday.
Hackathon is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and other ICT geniuses are often involved in software development projects.
A CUT trio, Tatenda Chinyamakobvu, Gordon Muneka and Elvin Kakomo created a prototype — “Smart Alert Mechanisms for rapid response” which seeks to improve reaction to accidents by detecting an accident and simultaneously directing ambulance services to the scene.
Besides receiving the $1 million award, the trio further received $5 000 each.
They will be attending the international hackathon 2020 World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Forum to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in April.
Nine universities contested in the hackathon displaying workable ICT ideas under the theme “Sustainable smart cities”.
University of Zimbabwe came second pocketing $750 000 for their institution and $4 000 per individual after presenting a prototype named “Integrated independent power producers into main utility grid”.
The prototype seeks to address prevalent power outages obtaining in the country and region lately.
Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) was third after coming up with a prototype named “Lifeline” which seeks to create a national database that keeps medical statistics and records for the population — for easier tracing of one’s medical history. They walked away with $500 000 for their institution and $3 000 per individual.
Minister of Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Jenfan Muswere and Permanent Secretary Engineer Dr. Samuel Kundishora witnessed the brilliant minds in the Information Communication and Technology fields presenting realistic innovative ideas that could be implemented if sufficiently funded.
While addressing participants at the event, Minister Muswere revealed that the competition is meant to promote applications developed locally thereby enhancing the face of ICT in the country.
“The objective of the innovation drive is to increase ICT research and development as well as ICT uptake by young innovators and research institutions in Zimbabwe.”
Minister Muswere said the competition is also meant “to increase the total number of homegrown ICT applications and create employment”.
POTRAZ director Dr. Gift Machengete pointed out that the hackathon idea is meant to brood solutions to problems presently inflicting the society.
“ . . . the bigger picture, apart from the International hackathon finals in Switzerland, the aim of this event, is to build capacity among youth to develop home-grown solutions to different socio-economic challenges bedeviling our country,” said Dr. Machengete.
Each of the winning universities will use up to $200 000 of their prize money to develop concepts presented by their respective students in the competition.