Winners of the Vodacom Foundation, Techware and National University of Lesotho (NUL) Science and Technology Society hackathon were presented with their prizes at a colourful ceremony held in Maseru on Friday last week.
Over 100 participants took part in the April 5-6 competition, which saw computer-programmers, mostly from tertiary institutions, building computer-software that addresses key development challenges facing Lesotho today, among them Education, Health, Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality.
Setsoto Boleme and Lehlohonolo Mokotsi clinched first prize; Lipholo Pheko came second; Kito Pooe was third, and Setsoto Mohlomi took fourth position, and all are students at the NUL. The victorious whizz kids walked away with a number of prizes that included a laptop, smartphone, computer external hard drive and headphones.
The first prize was worth M8000, while the second, third and fourth prizes were valued at M5000, M4000 and M3000, respectively.
Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony, the Techware Managing Director, Mr Shatu Nhlapo said: “This ceremony we are holding today is simply to motivate the winners so they do not become discouraged as they are doing an excellent job, which will benefit them and the country, in the future.”
Mr Nhlapo said Techware had decided to be part of the hackathon —the first to be held in Lesotho — because the company plans to sponsor students who develop projects as part of their school-assignments.
“We want the students to know that going to school is not just to earn big marks, but to also earn something which will benefit them outside the classroom,” Mr Nhlapo said.
“They have to benefit from the applications and the country will also benefit from the same applications developed by Basotho.”
On behalf of Vodacom Lesotho, Ms Rorisang Motlomelo said the telecommunications giant’s involvement in the hackathon was its way of giving back to Basotho.
“If Lesotho wants to match other countries in terms of technology, we need to capacitate these young people,” Ms Motlomelo said.