NEMISA National Data Science Hackathon in partnership with UJ Technopreneurship Centre

The National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) hosted a National Data Science Innovation Hackathon in all nine provinces of South Africa from 26 – 28 February 2021. In Gauteng, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Technopreneurship Centre (TPC) within the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems (SCiiS) at the College of Business and Economics (CBE) collaborated with NEMISA – an entity of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies to host the Gauteng Province Hackathon.

The national hackathon was hosted virtually over three days and the Gauteng leg was organised and hosted by UJ Technopreneurship Centre at the Auckland Park Kingsway campus. The theme of the hackathon was, ”A data-driven approach to policy decisions.”

The TPC is known for hosting successful hackathons. The Centre’s role within this partnership was to ensure that it organises and hosts the hackathon on behalf of NEMISA in the Gauteng province, appoint the experienced mentors to guide the participants and judges to evaluate the projects and/or solutions that students developed. The TPC was also tasked to look for the right dataset which could be used to address the government policy decision-making. Head of the Technopreneurship Centre Mr Koena Mabokela, was also heavily involved in the co-ordination and organisation of the entire hackathon within the Gauteng province.

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The hackers were visited by Prof Daneel Van Lill (Executive Dean, UJ College of Business and Economics), Trevor Rammitlwa (CEO of the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa), Dr Stella Bvuma (Head of the UJ Department of Applied Information Systems) and Prof Kelvin Joseph Bwalya (Vice Dean of Research, UJ College of Business and Economics). Alongside Mr Ronny Mabokela (Head of Technopreneurship Centre), Prof Hossana Twinomurinzi (UJ Lecturer & Programme Director for the NEMISA Data Science Hackathon), and Mr Risuna Maluleke (CEO of Yaei) who were managing, mentoring and guiding the hackers.

There were over 500 participants that registered to participate in the national hackathon. The Gauteng province had registered the highest number of participants (270) which included students from various departments and fields of study within the university and this was noticeably mentioned as a “Much better representation” as compared to past years.

In Gauteng province the winners are:

  • Main Winner: Team #16:32 – R15 000
  • 1st Runner up: Team Green Salad – R10 000
  • 2nd Runner up: Team Part-time professors – R5 000

The main winners from each province had to present against other teams around the country on the main (virtual) stage. The judges consisted of the honourable Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams of Communications and Digital Technologies, and the NEMISA Advisory Board with R100 000 as a grand prize. Team #1632 from Gauteng which presented a LESIDI AI-powered data-driven solution for health challenges managed to put UJ on the map and became the 2nd place winner with judges scoring them high for best presentation and best female presenter.

The honourable Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was right when she said “We need to ensure the work that we started today does not end here instead we get to build from it and make sure that it can be utilised by government first. We will take one-step at a time but that step will ensure that South Africa occupies its rightful place and that rightful place is when are able to identify our own niche, when are able to develop solutions for African problems. Our only choice is to make sure that we disrupt the status quo.”

Head of the TPC Mr Mabokela shared his comments about the hackathon. “I must say, this has been the most incredible and valuable opportunity for UJ Technopreneurship Centre. The turn-out and the level of participation during this hackathon has proved that the Centre is thriving in its objectives. Once again, the UJ TPC has managed to engage students across the University from different fields of study to collaborate towards one common goal with the aims to address a shifting digital landscape. It is in platforms like these that we can collaborate and innovate the solutions which can address the African challenges. I would like to thank the NEMISA for affording the Centre to host the hackathon and the Leadership of UJ. I would like to Thank Mr Risuna Maluleke for working tirelessly until the last day of the hackathon. I would also like to thank all the hackers who made this hackathon possible and did not quit until the last day of the hackathon, to our mentors, judges and facilitators for always making sure that they were there to assist.”

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