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5th Hackathon competition under way |12 May 2023

5th Hackathon competition under way

Guests and competition participants in a souvenir photograph

The University of Seychelles is hosting the 5th Hackathon competition in collaboration with the Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT).

The competition got underway at 2pm yesterday and will end today at 2pm. It is organised in commemoration of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTIS) on May 17, which is this year focusing on empowering the least developed countries with information and development technology.

This year’s competition features two groups of three’s and one participant who decided to go solo.

Unlike the previous years, which had a multitude of challenges, this year will only have the 24-hour challenge.

Senior analyst at DICT, Kevin Marie, presented the challenge to the participants. “Our aspiring developers will take this opportunity to produce an application that will help not just less developed countries, but Seychelles as well.”

One of the main elements to empowering less developed countries is financial literacy. “Budgeting and knowledge about financial products are two key elements to achieve financial literacy. ‘Smart Finance’ is the go to app to achieve this,” said Mr Marie.

Each team will have 24 hours to develop a mobile application for the IOS-Android and Windows Platform to achieve three core functionalities – Registration and login, budget tracking and financial education model.

Mr Marie explained the importance of the three functionalities citing that registration and login is for personalisation of each user. This will help the user analyse the data of what the app is doing for them.

Budget tracking is a great way for visual representation of the money spent and a visual calculation should be shown on the app. This helps the user understand cash flow.

The core challenge, the financial educational model, will have interactive modules covering financial topics with short lessons and quizzes.

As is tradition, in the Hackathon, a bonus challenge will be given to the competing teams. The teams will have to achieve this within the 24 hours and if successful, it adds more points to the team.

The event is sponsored by Cable and Wireless who has split the cost with DICT.

Mr Marie explained that the sponsor was sought out by UniSey itself.

“Since Cable is a telecommunications company, it is more than good for them to take part in this with their contribution.”

The recruitment was done through adverts by UniSey and radio broadcasting and there was not an age limit to the participation.

“Anyone who has the skills to do it, could take part,” said Mr Marie.

The works will be judged by three panellists from DICT, UniSey and an external judge and the winners will receive a cash prize, a shield and a certificate.

Each judge has been given an assessment criteria and they have to follow some usability criteria to ensure fairness.

“It is not subjective, everything is there on the assessment criteria, if you achieve it you get your points, if you do not achieve it, you do not get any points.”

The technical infrastructure for the competition has been provided by UniSey itself, such as the computers that the participants will use. They will also be provided with  internet connection. However, the participants were advised to bring their own laptops as backups.

Bernard Songwar, Head of Department of Computing and Information, explained the logistics behind the competition stating that all of the competitors will have to stay in the given room and they are not allowed to leave. There will be supervisors and on-site technicians to solve any issues that may rise. Showering facilities and food will be made readily available for the participants.

There will be supervisors who will be guiding the progress and notifying the participants what stage they should be on.

Danio Marcelin of team FDJ stated that his goal for the competition is simple, to win. He went on to state that in his team, it is split with a designer, a planner and he himself is the programmer who will handle all the coding.

Mr Marcelin stated that he would prefer if his team could go full caffeine and pull an all-nighter instead of sleeping.

“This is my first time so I want to learn as much as I can from it,” he said.

The main challenge that Mr Marcelin expects to face is the fact the coding itself within the allocated time is “not going to be easy”.

However he is encouraged to face it head on. “In terms of my technical skills I want to push my abilities to its limits and as for personal growth, I want to gain recognition for my work.”

In terms of time management, Mr Marcelin stated that his team will do the best they can. “One of us will do the research and the rest of us will work and we will just keep switching.”

He believes that his team’s exceptional team work ability is what will give them the edge in the competition. “We have been working together for a very long time on different projects.”

Mr Marcelin’s teammates include Jahneal Leon and Fabiana Belise.

Neil Nicholas from Team Dev1 explained that it is all about technique and utilising the 24 hours to its fullest potential.

“We have the moral, that is what maybe sets us apart from the other team,” he explained.

Mr Nicholas explains that he will be doing the designing and the back end, while the rest of his team mates will be doing the front end.

“I think the bonus challenge that they announced may prove to be a little bit challenging.”

He stated he is unsure of the amount of difficulty it might pose to actually incorporate it in the already stacked challenges.

Mr Nicholas will be joined by his teammates Sandrine Madeleine, Shayane Ouimel Hoareau.

Gibran Rizvi is the individual that will participate solo.

The principal secretary for DICT, Benjamin Choppy, expressed the fact that DICT plans to resume the Hackathon yearly, after the three-year hiatus due to Covid-19, during the WTISD.

“This activity is something that the department has always supported given that the department is also one of the main local software development outfit,” said Mr Choppy. “It is therefore fitting that we support activities that will entice new developers, and challenge existing ones.”

He expressed gratitude to UniSey for having led the initiative of the current edition. He also took the opportunity to thank Cable and Wireless for undertaking the sponsorship.

He stated that the DICT view these competitions as a means of showcasing local talent. Given the high penetration of mobile phones in Seychelles, which borders 100%, PS Choppy said “it is fitting that the development challenge will be focused on creating a new mobile based solution for a specific problem”.

The Dean of Faculty of Business Sustainable Development, Dr Michael Hall, stated that UniSey is a place that inspires people. “We have made a pledge to make standing contributions to supporting the United Nations in the sustainable development goals,” he stated. Through research and engagement, the University places a special emphasis on sustainability and digitalisation in all areas of their work. “The University is totally committed to working with the government of Seychelles and will play a key role in the digitalisation of the country.”

He added that UniSey is playing a significant role in the “fourth industrial revolution” and that this year’s event will be some of the most innovative and creative technologies. “An advancement in digitalisation.”

The winners of the Hackathon will be announced next week on May 17.

Past Hackathon winners included Gibran Rizvi and Richie Course in 2016 and Tharindu Madusanka and Yeshan Lakshita, the following year.

Among guests at the ceremony yesterday included Vice-President Ahmed Afif and Vice-Chancellor of the UniSey, Joelle Perreau.


Sunny Esparon

Photos by Louis Toussaint

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