Creative innovators win big at POTRAZ awards

04 Jul, 2022 - 13:07 0 Views
Creative innovators win big at POTRAZ awards Winners being presented with their cheque.


Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter

A TOTAL of 61 teams of creative innovators walked away with certificates and monetary prizes at the fifth Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) Hackathon awards presentation ceremony held in Mutare last Friday.

The greater part of the Hackathon competition was conducted virtually.

The annual Hackathon is part of the country’s ICT innovation drive being administered by POTRAZ and whose major objectives are to increase ICT research and development as well as ICT uptake by innovators and research institutions in Zimbabwe.

This is done by identifying, supporting and capacitating ICT innovators in the country, in order to develop their ideas into bankable solutions for Zimbabwe and the global market.

Speaking at the awards, Information Communication Technologies, Postal and Courier Services Minister Jenfan Muswere said there is need to have more competitions like the POTRAZ Hackathon contribute positively to national development initiatives especially at such a time when the Government is grappled with projects and programmes aimed at putting the economy back on track.

“The POTRAZ Hackathon do not only promote a culture of ICT innovation and development among Zimbabwean youths but also creates employment and increases the total number of home-grown ICT applications. This resonates well with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and which calls for the development and implementation of home-grown solutions to the country’s problems as well as the creation of employment by local entrepreneurs,” he said.

“NDS 1 identifies ICTs and Innovation as a strategic pillar and enabler of national development. This is because of the cross-cutting nature of ICTs and Innovation as literally all facets of the economy have gone digital. Therefore, to survive in the digital world and to compete squarely with other nations in the global digital economy, the country needs innovative minds that create innovative solutions capable of transforming the country,” said Minister Muswere.

He said that tech hubs are breeding grounds providing innovators with the best possible platform to make their ideas a reality. Ideas to make industry more efficient, ideas to make processes more productive and ideas to make systems more resilient.

“For accelerated innovation, governments the world over have set up technological hubs. For there to be meaningful progress with regards the development of these tech (hubs), there is need for meaningful funding to provide the platform for innovators to flourish.

The Minister called upon the private sector to establish public private partnerships with Government towards setting up and running tech hubs.

“Innovations from these hubs will immensely benefit both Government and the private sector hence such partnerships are a worthwhile move,” added Minister Muswere.

ICT Minister Jenfan Muswere with some of the winners.

Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and devolution Nokuthula Matsikenyere commended organisers for choosing Mutare as the host of this progressive event.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation to Minister Jenfan Muswere, for his consistent desire to see this country achieve the Digitalisation aspirations of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) as he rolls out the different ICT Programmes throughout the country, especially among the unserved and underserved communities. This is more than enough testimony of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe’s commitment to the provision of ICTs to all, regardless of location,” said Minister Matsikenyere.

POTRAZ Director General Dr Gift Machengete said the programme is testimony of the Government’s commitment to the provision of ICTs to all, regardless of location.

“Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, all these are realities, they are opposed to realities we have been used to, because of symmetry of realities.

“While as a nation, we may not be interested in creating a Metaverse at the moment, we have other pressing issues to deal with, those pressing issues call for home grown solutions,” said Dr Machengete.

Dr Machengete said there is a land rush in the virtual world and this is where the world is going.

Among the guests at the event were mentors and coaches who assisted the innovators as they worked on their different projects.

POTRAZ, through the Universal Services Fund (USF), is mandated to promote research and development in the field of ICTs. The body is helping young innovators to sharpen their innovative minds by participating in competitions and events.

The amount of funding to be disbursed for each of the winning projects will be based on the individual project funding’s requirements, and this will be worked out between POTRAZ and each innovator. For the Hackathon, however, winning teams received the following prize moneys, which they can spend as they wish.

  • For 1st prize, the winners will get ZWL350,000 for each team member, up to a maximum of 5 team members, and the total will be ZWL1,750,000.
  • For the 2nd prize, the winners will get ZWL280,000 for each team member, up to a maximum of 5 team members and the total will be ZWL1,400,000.
  • For the 3rd prize, the winners will get ZWL210,000 for each team member, up to a maximum of 5 team members and the total will be ZWL1,050,000.
  • From the 4th to 10th prize, the winners will get ZWL175,000 for each team member, up to a maximum of 5 team members and the total will be ZWL6,125,000.
  • From the 11th to 61st prize, the winners will get ZWL105,000 for each team member, up to a maximum of 5 team members and the total being ZWL26,775,000.

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