The East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) SOC Ltd Science and Technology Park (STP) hosted an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Hackathon Challenge for youth based in the Eastern Cape Province. The third instalment of the challenge, which took place in March 2022, was hosted in collaboration with Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (sponsor) Cisco, the Cortex Hub, Propella Business Incubator, University of Fort Hare and Water Sisulu University.

The two-day hybrid hackathon challenge under the programme named ICT and 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) shaping a better Eastern Cape saw more than 60 innovators participated in the hackathon. The innovators were grouped into 14 groups and mentors were allocated at the five different stations (ELIDZ STP, Propella Business Incubator, University of Fort Hare and Water Sisulu University in Mthatha and Queenstown) to ensure smooth running of the event. The participants were given a task to come up with solutions to any of the following challenges facing the Eastern Cape, i.e., unemployment, service delivery, as well as education and upskilling.

On Day 1, the hackathon started with an opening address by the ELIDZ STP Operations Manager, Ludwe Macingwane, followed by masterclasses on Cisco DevNet, Python Programming and Cybersecurity – all conducted by Cisco representatives. The same evening marked the start of a session which saw participants developing ideas and concepts to solve real-time problems faced by the region.

Day 2 saw the continuation of the hacking by the youth with intervals for elimination starting the same morning at 09h00. The mentors assisted the respective groups throughout the day and night with technical support. The cut-off time to submit concepts was 11h00 on Sunday, 27 March 2022. After cut-off, teams were required to pitch their ideas to a panel of experienced business and technical people. The judging panel comprised of representatives from the ELIDZ STP, Walter Sisulu University, Nelson Mandela University, Rosebank College and Start-up Grind. The adjudication and announcement of the top three winning teams took place on the afternoon of Day 3.

Congratulations to the winning team, Zebibyte Automation Cloud (ZAC), which consisted of Zizipo Magaga, Axolile Mququ and Chumani Charlie, who designed a web-based application that allows Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality residents to log and track a service request. The first prize winners, a team made up of University of Fort Hare, East London Campus, took home a cash prize of R30 000.00 to invest on their ground-breaking application.

Bloombugs won the second prize, and this team is made up of Asekona Xanywa, Kudzaishe Matope, Regomoditswe Mkhabela, Carol Ngomane and Olwethu Manqola. The second placed team developed an Android application which will direct service delivery-related queries to the municipal administrator who will in turn redirect it to the responsible department. Bloombugs, Walter Sisulu University, Queenstown Campus students, won a R20 000.00 cash prize.

The third prize went to the East London Techeads. The East London Techeads are Yolanda Gwala, Andile Lwanga, Anam Baza, Lutho Makasi and Sandile January from East London. The team has developed a free tutoring platform for high school learners. The East London Techeads won a R10 000.00 cash prize.

“This is the third instalment of the ELIDZ STP ICT Hackathon Challenge, and we are happy that it was such a success with teams coming up with ground-breaking innovations. The panel of judges that oversaw this three-day event truly understood the importance of this hackathon challenge hence they were able to select the three innovations that spoke to issues that continue to plague this province and the nation at large. The participants displayed high levels of potential in addressing societal issues. The hackathon challenge demonstrated the power of digital collaboration, and more importantly, the amazing potential that we have in the country and Africa at large,” said Ludwe Macingwane.

In November 2021, the ELIDZ STP held a second ICT Hackathon Challenge and the winners are as follows:

  1. Code Brigaders, made up of Aphiwe Mazwi, Karabo Skisazana, Lifa Gomomo, Nasiphi Ngqinambi and Katlego Mogoro. The team presented a health application that is designed to help improve the rate at which services are rendered in public clinics in rural areas. The first prize winners, who hail from Queenstown, won a cash prize of R30 000.00.
  2. Second-placed, Technicated, a team consisting of Bonke Kweza and Bahle Menziwa developed a solution that will assist in predicting, reducing, and further curbing the rate of school dropouts in South Africa. Technicated won a R20 000.00 cash prize.
  3. Cyber Elites, who came in third, developed a Zero-Rated mobile application that will assist both high school learners and university students with study material. The Cyber Elites are Kwena Mpalo and Bonga Spelt from East London who won a R10 000.00 cash prize.