Female ‘hackers’ take the lead

Public service delivery set to improve thanks to tech innovation

18 August 2020 | Technology

Sixty-eight teams of young innovators registered to take part in a virtual hackathon aimed at improving public service delivery last month.
The hackathon was initiated by the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), in partnership with the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), ICTechHub, and Green Enterprise Solutions. The ICTechHub is housed at NUST and it is responsible for talent scouting, mentorship, sponsorship and product development in the ICT sector.
The ten-day event called on young innovators, tech-bodies, solution designers and service delivery experts to go head-to-head and compete in developing and presenting innovations and ideas that address challenges experienced by the government in service delivery.
The winning teams were all led by female innovators – a remarkable achievement in an industry that is male-dominated. The winners and their prizes were as follows:
1st prize: Pro Food Challenge App – a team that developed a multi-stakeholder ecommerce platform (U$5 000);
2nd prize: E-passport system – a team that showcased an e-Passport Service for the Ministry of Home Affairs (U$3 000); and
3rd prize: Traffic ticket system – a team that created a Traffic Ticket Management System for the Ministry of Safety and Security (U$2 000).

“This our way of contributing to public service improvement through citizen-driven innovation. It allows the country to benefit from the creative energies of its young people,” said Josephina Muntuumo, a computer science lecturer in the Faculty of Computing and Informatics (FCI).
The innovators expressed their gratitude to the organisers for acknowledging their hard work. Their solutions will be incubated at a local IT company to provide support to reach sustainable levels of implementation before handing them over to the custodian government offices.
“Through the hackathon, we showcased the talent of young Namibians in improving and digitalising services. Providing such multi-stakeholder platforms between innovators, NGOs, government agencies and the private sector allows innovation to benefit all citizens,” said Marly Samuel, tech innovation coordinator of the ICTechHub.

Public sector innovation
The office of the Prime Minister recently launched the Namibian Public Sector Innovation Policy, which is part of government’s mission to leverage ICT to solve socio-economic issues.
According to Prof Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, a researcher in the FCI, inclusive innovation has been identified as a critical catalyst in the development of Namibia.“If harnessed and supported, it can create immense value. Innovation will be a key determiner of how we improve the way we deliver services to all our citizens wherever they may be,” she said.

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