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Wednesday, 14 May 2014 14:33

New technologies and young talent

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Young people in ACP countries are seldom attracted into agriculture. In organising its first ‘hackathon’, CTA offered young graduate computer programming development enthusiasts an opportunity to flaunt their talents and discover potential openings in the agricultural sector.

Strengthening agricultural productivity and improving livelihoods of youths are two of CTA’s major targets and also the principles underpinning the ‘hackathon’ that was organised during the ICT4Ag international conference held in Kigali in November 2013. A hackathon is an event during which computer programmers (and development stakeholders when required) collaborate for a short period in developing an ICT application or platform to solve a specific issue. The aim of the Kigali event was to highlight the potential of new technologies applied to agriculture while supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly among young people. 

Software to facilitate access to credit and test soil fertility

The hackathon was implemented as a regional championship (with national selection events) for young computer specialists. From the outset, ICT innovation hubs have been sponsoring these young people and have since supported the winners of the competition. The winning entrepreneurs were from Ensibuuko (Uganda), AgriVAS (Ethiopia) and Agrinfo (Tanzania). The winners developed web and mobile software to enable innovative farm credit management, a platform for sending agricultural information by SMS in the national language, and a farmland mapping system. Another team developed a tool to test soil fertility with a pH sensor, with the results subsequently sent to agricultural extension agents by SMS. Inspired by this hackathon, Rwandan authorities have decided to organise a national event.

Promotion of young entrepreneurs and incubation opportunities

Hackathon follow-up activities have now begun. CTA subsidises ICT innovation hubs that have backed the regional winners. The young entrepreneurs are now being supported in launching their product, benefiting from advice or training, while also being put in touch with investors. These talented young people will also participate in international meetings to build up their professional networks and knowledge. Some will also participate in the CTA Fin4Ag international conference on agricultural value chain finance. A national workshop on the local hackathon experience will take place in Rwanda by June 2014, with the support of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. CTA plans to organise a regional planning meeting for the entire activity by July 2014.

The success of this initiative has attracted the interest of other ACP regions, whose representatives have been approaching CTA for advice and support. We will keep you posted…

* To find out more, see the hackathon blog: http://hackathon.ict4ag.org

Article originally published in CTA's SPORE Magazine.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 14:54


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