The moment felt very surreal when Afrocast was called up as the local winners of the IBM SmartCamp award at Tech4Africa 2014. So you can imagine my shock when we (Afrocast) were also announced as the Regional winners of the IBM SmartCamp award! It was unbelievable and it still has not sunk in almost 2 days later.
When I look back at the journey and even at that moment as I was standing up on the stage, the only thing that I could think about was how just a year ago I was at my first ever Tech4Africa hackathon at JoziHub with a few colleagues where I was about to set off a domino effect that would result in me being where I am today and possibly shape my vision of where my journey in IT is heading.
The Tech4Africa JoziHub 24 hour hackathon was an amazing experience for me as it was my first ever hackathon and it was the first time that I was in the same room with a bunch of people that were doing what I love for the love of it. The people there were amazing. The food was good and of course the free drinks! All the problems everybody set out to tackle were very ambitious especially for a 24 hour coding session but it just made me proud to be a part of a group of people that were as ambitious as I was and not afraid to set out to tackle a problem and try everything that they could to make sure it got done.
We managed to stay up the whole 24 hours working on our application and managed to complete a large portion of it except a few geolocation features that still till this day make me cringe at how simple the solution was but I guess after the 23rd hour even the most simplest solutions don’t seem so simple. The next day I actually changed a line of code and it worked…
The most important things I took away from that hackathon was the realisation that apart from being something one does for a living and as a hobby there are some common traits that I shared with the people in that room: The need to be good at they do, the desire to leave a mark on the world through what they do and the thirst for knowledge and to better ones self.
I also got the opportunity to go to only my second Technology Expo (Tech4Africa) via the hackathon where I got further introduced to the South African technology community and see how creative individuals and thinkers in our country are solving problems and sharing their expertise on some of the most interesting fields in IT. I thought I knew a lot about IT but at my first Tech4Africa I got introduced to some of the most amazing topics and fields in our industry, some of the most amazing technologies (which I have been able to carry into work and apply to create some amazing solutions) and some of the most amazing people that still recognise you when you are walking down the street.
– I will never forget the day, about 3 months after Tech4Africa 2013, when a student I met at the event stuck his head out a taxi flying by and yelled “Great talk at Tech4Africa!”. It was priceless. –
I think the opportunities that Tech4Africa presents the average techie cannot be taken for granted. The networking opportunities, the opportunities to get your ideas out to the right people, the opportunity to sit amongst people better than you at what you do and get inspired and of course a reference point from which you can use as a benchmark for all your endeavours.
In fact at the time I was at a startup (Fresh Thinking Technology) where we were building solutions that were revolutionising the government sector I met another startup (Boxfusion) that was turning the government sector upside down and inside out with some of the most innovative solutions addressing problems specific to the public sector on a scale where your competitors can feed small african countries. I had to be a part of that and I now work there!
I cannot even began to thank all the individuals that make Tech4Africa happen and the effort that they put in to make sure that it is well executed and especially Gareth Knight who seems to have more belief in the South African tech community and is responsible for igniting more flames of ambition and desire in young tech entrepreneurs than he will ever know.