by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH African youth are to assist the government develop technological solutions to tackle some issues plaguing residents in the country.
Some 200 young people aged 14 to 27 will participate in the initiative at the back of the National Public Service Hackathon, which recently-concluded at the University of Johannesburg.
The event, hosted by the Department of Public Service and Administration and sponsored by leading business and analytics company SAS, among others, saw teams of young coders and programmers come together for a 72-hour competition.
Ayanda Dlodlo, Public Service and Administration Minister, said the event, which also marked the end of Public Service Month, offered government the opportunity to redefine the relationship between the public sector and the youth of South Africa.
“We will start incubating some of the solutions that came out of this event and as government, we are extremely proud of the young people who have participated and sought to use innovation to take our country forward,” Dlodlo said.
The top three teams at the event received cash prizes of R10 000, R30 000 and R50 000 each, as well as post-hackathon support from the Centre for Public Service Innovation and its partners to assist them further develop their solutions.
Marcos Magain, SAS Public Sector Account Executive, said the public service would gain from incorporating young minds, fresh perspectives and new technologies into the fold.
“Government has huge amounts of data on hand – now they need someone to analyse that data and put forward solutions based on the outcomes thereof. To do this, they need people with the right skill. SAS believes it is important to upskill these young people to have the sort of skillset that will enable them to contribute to the kinds of initiatives that will make a lasting difference,” Magain said.
Sifiso Nkabinde (14), one of the youngest participants in the event hopes to study information security, and when older, intends to use technology to tackle technical problems like space exploration and motor engineering.
He created an education solution during the hackathon.
Antoinette van Zyl, Senior Solutions Data Manager at SAS, said while more females were entering the technology sector, the transition is happening at a much slower pace.
She said disparities came from generations of being told that males were more tech-savvy than females but increasingly more females were becoming professionals and going out to seek new, unique career opportunities.
“It’s an exciting time to be a woman in technology watching the transition take place,” van Zyl said.
– CAJ News