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HackJozi winner to be announced​


The countdown has begun to the announcement of the inaugural winner of the R1-million prize in the City of Johannesburg’s #Hack.Jozi Challenge as 10 finalists of the competition hold their collective breath.

The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is an initiative aimed at finding Johannesburg’s own Mark Zuckerbergs – technology boffins with great digital solutions to some of the city’s everyday challenges. Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau will announce the winner and the first two runners-up at a gala dinner in Johannesburg on Wednesday July 8.

The initiative – developed by the City in partnership with the University of the Witwatersrand’s Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) – attracted dozens of tech-savvy entrepreneurs with great digital ideas but who lack the necessary funding to fully develop their concepts. The challenge, with prize money totalling R5-million, pitted 140 ICT entrepreneurs against one another in a “digital bootcamp” since early this year.

The number was first whittled down to 43 and later to 10. The 10 finalists were given the opportunity to demonstrate their ideas at the Wits Origins Centre yesterday. The finalists are Diepsloot Kasi Hive, Move This Stuff, i-Tea, MoWallet, Atinov, Ghost, Tirisan Tech Solutions, South African Trade Solutions, Lazy Lizzard and How2Get2. The winner will walk away with the R1-million prize, while the first two runners-up will each pocket R350 000.

Speaking at the announcement of the finalists yesterday, #Hack.Jozi Project Manager and the City’s Head of Broadband, Zolani Matebese, praised the ingenuity of the finalists, who had transformed ideas and concepts “on a piece of paper” into real digital solutions. He said the entries included “everything” – from early warning and detection systems for shack fires to high-end applications using Bluetooth portals.

“These are not typically something you and I would ordinarily wake up and think about,” Matebese said.

He said many of the applications held great potential to improve the lives of the residents of Johannesburg.

“It has really been a very interesting journey. I think Joburg, specifically, has been very forward-thinking under our Executive Mayor,” said Matebese, pointing to the scale of the #Hack.Jozi initiative and the establishment of free Wi-Fi hotspots and the broadband network. “These are things that most municipalities are only just now starting to think about. We’re already implementing them,” Matebese said.

“The thing is, if you have 10 ICT startups that go and become successful and employ 10 to 15 people each, you will really make a dent on unemployment. That’s what we're really trying to achieve,” he concluded.

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