Cellulant launches an Africa-wide #CodeTheFuture hackathon series at Connected Summit

In October this year, Cellulant partnered with the ICT Authority of Kenya to organize the 2018 Connected Summit Conference on its 10th year anniversary. During the 3-day summit, Cellulant held its inaugural #CodeTheFuture hackathon under the theme ‘Big 4 Hackathon’.

This year, the Connected Summit event was held in Nairobi on October 22- 24, 2018. The annual Connected summit is a platform that brings over 500 ICT thought leaders together to freely share and exchange ideas on how to harness intellectual capital to generate economic value, as well as mechanisms of perpetuating technology as a catalyst for service delivery in the region. All payments to the conference were via Cellulant’s digital payments platform – a first for the conference where no cash was accepted.
The highlight of the 3 day summit was the #CodeTheFuture hackathon.

What is #CodeTheFuture?

This is a series of Hack-a-thons hosted by Cellulant across Africa for university students interested in ICT. The initiative seeks to impact students across all education levels and academic backgrounds empowering them with skill sets for the future, while enabling them to imagine and create local solutions to African challenges. At the core, #codethefuture Africa, seeks to groom up-and-coming African talent in technology and spark innovation that will transform the ICT industry in Africa. Cellulant launched its first in a yearlong #CodeTheFuture series at this year’s Connected Summit in in Nairobi, Kenya with plans to scale to other parts of Kenya and Africa.

#CodeTheFuture Big 4 Hackathon

Cellulant’s #CodeTheFuture hackathon required participating teams to focus on one of the areas of President Uhuru of Kenya’s Big 4 agenda (Food security, Affordable housing, Healthcare and Manufacturing) to propose and develop software showcasing how digital payments can help achieve these goals.

Seven teams participated with 6 teams drawn from; St. Paul’s University, JKUAT, University of Nairobi, Daystar University, Technical University of Mombasa and one team from Kazini hub.

The judging panel had six judges and included a team from Cellulant’s Business Development & Technical Operations) and 4 from the ICT Ministries of Agriculture, Housing, Health and Manufacturing). The scoring metrics for the winning software were; originality, relevance to the big 4 Agenda, readiness of prototype and presentation skills:

The Hackathon Winners – Bithawks, Sabers & Codec

Three teams won the Hackathon; Bithawks, Sabers and Codec were the first, second and third winners respectively. The Bithawks team represented the University of Nairobi with a solution to food security, they had developed a digital currency for farmers. 1st Runners up, the Sabers were from JKUAT with a solution on housing. They created a chatbot (Artificial Intelligence in Enterprise applications) that will aid in both customer and payments tasks in relation to housing. The 2nd Runners Up, Codec hailed from Daystar University with a housing system which checks your credit score to place you in a housing grade.

The winning teams were awarded with head phones, tablets, smartphones, merchandise from the Cellulant and Mula brands, a 2-week training from Oracle as well as a 2-month co-working space at the iHub. The winners were also taken on a tour of the Cellulant Kenya offices, where they got to meet and present to and interact with the company’s lead developer teams.

Participants of the first #CodeTheFuture hackathon in Kenya - Cellulant's Africa-wide series for University students interested in ICT
Participants of the first #CodeTheFuture hackathon in Kenya – Cellulant’s Africa-wide series for University students interested in ICT

What next for the participants

We spoke to two of the winning participants, Ruth Otieno, a Computer Engineering student at JKUAT and Tobenna K.O Abanfor a 2nd year student studying Applied Computer Science at Daystar University to tell us about their experience and what the what was next for them.

“So after all this what’s our plan for the future?  I can’t really speak for everyone, but I can say for a fact that there were other brilliant ideas there, and we would be lying if we said we weren’t lucky to come in at top three, so I would hope that even those who didn’t win continue to work on their ideas as we will ours. Said Ruth Otieno 

“For us, we would continue to take meetings with the companies we connected with, as we continue to improve on the idea, taking in pointers we have received so far. Our main goal is to reduce poverty in Africa to the barest minimum and making a business of it only further sustains that dream. She added.

Tobenna Abanfor had this to say of the hackathon;

“Generally, I had heard of Cellulant but experiencing it has been an entirely a different thing, they helped bridge a gap and create a big difference in the hackathon exercise. Follow Up. Exercises that usually involve the young student developers dies at the end of receiving the prizes but the connected summit hackathon 2018 was blessed with a follow up, a partner that showed interest. That goes a long way in encouraging any young person doing anything.”

What next for #CodetheFuture

Following the success of the hackathon, Cellulant is looking to scale #CodeTheFuture country-wide within the next one to two years and to other African countries in the next five years. This is in line with Cellulant’s strategy as a leading Pan-African payments company led by values-driven entrepreneurial minded people.

Cellulant’s #CodeTheFuture program seeks to build and foster an African community of coders and software developers that are developing innovating solutions to everyday real-life issues affecting their communities.

Under the framework of #CodeTheFuture, Cellulant recently partnered with Swahilipot Hub for the Pwani Innovation Week happening in December. During the week-long event, Cellulant shall be running a concept hack aimed at challenging the youth in the 6 Coastal Counties to find creative solutions to everyday real-life issues affecting their community.

Unlike #CodeTheFuture hackathon whose focus is on software solutions, the ‘Innovate for Pwani’ is not only for tech but rather for creative solutions that can transform the Coastal region of Kenya. Click here for more details or to apply for the ‘Innovate for Pwani’ concept hack.

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