Youths laud opportunities at tech innovation competition

– three-day hackathon put environment issues to the fore

Three teams of young programmers prevailed to cop the coveted top spots on Sunday, after over 70 gruelling hours of coding at the Office of the Prime Minister’s Innovation Challenge 2022.

Supported by GTT, the event provided youths with the opportunity of utilising Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to address real-time issues affecting Guyana’s environment.

Participants of Innovation Challenge 2022 alongside officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and GTT 2022 alongside officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and GTT

Leader of the Team Logiq which placed third, Mr. Julius Simon, said the event unlocked doors for the development of the programme they coded.

The team designed a software to alleviate littering through gathering information and bringing it to the attention of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) so that it could be resolved.

Team Logiq receiving their 3rd place trophy from the Director of the Industry of Innovation Unit, Mr. Shahrukh Hussain

“We did speak with a few agents before that have expressed interests in what we were planning to do. So, we will have discussions with them to see if they are interested in pursuing a partnership and then we will go from there to see if they can make use of the solution,” the team leader told DPI.

With a wealth of experience after participating in four hackathons, Mr. Simon noted the event is, “a good learning experience and it helps you to see areas in which you can improve and really get better at building software.”

Representing second place holders was Ms. Uvannie Roopram of Team Tech Benders who coded Clean Unity, a software to organize cleanup and recycling activities to ensure a pristine environment.

Team Tech Benders receiving their 2nd place trophy from the National ICT Advisor, Mr. Darryl Akeung

Ms. Roopram said the Innovation Challenge was her debut involvement in such a competition.

While noting the wealth of experience gathered over the three-day event, Ms. Roopram added that the competition allowed her to step out of her comfort zone and rise to the challenge.

“No matter the level of knowledge you have of coding, you can still come and join because I was doubting myself for years and that’s why I am here today,” Ms. Roopram said.

The spotlight was stolen by Team Frame Perfect which designed a software that would map a particular habitat so assessments could be done on the effects of removing or adding various components, such as trees, animals, changes in water levels, among others.

“Why we would actually do that is to be able to… test policies and ideas we have to improve the environment and really get to know what kind of trends they bring about,” said team leader Mr. Malik Williams.

Team Frame Perfect receiving 1st place trophy from CEO of GTT, Mr. Damian Blackburn

He said the competition this year allowed for independent thinking and creativity.

Mr. Williams explained, “the previous years, they kind of pushed you in a direction, telling you to implement a specific thing, but this year, they gave us a lot of freedom and I think that our idea- our solution is a testament to the fact that you might be surprised what can come out of these competitions when you give people freedom. So, I’m really impressed. I hope the format continues.”

At Sunday’s closing ceremony, National ICT Advisor, Mr. Darryl Akeung lauded the role of ICT in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, where among other goals, Goal #9 addresses Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

The advisor opined that ICT has immense potential to transform Guyana and commended the event for placing environmental issues on the front burner.

Meanwhile, Director of the Industry and Innovation Unit, Mr. Shahrukh Hussain, providing an overview of Innovation Challenge 2022 noted that it targeted addressing social and economic issues relevant to Guyana.

“We believe that ICT can generate thousands of new jobs through co-investment, provide infrastructure support and create sustainability in all sectors.

Gtt’s CEO Mr. Damian Blackburn, who brought down the curtains at the event, told the participants of competition that his company will continue to support ideas to position Guyana as a leader for ICT within the region.

The administration has allocated $1.3 billion in 2022 to develop Guyana’s ICT sector, through the expansion of the government’s fibre optic cable and the provision of grants for ICT hubs in 167 communities, among other initiatives.

Much success has already been achieved with the training of over of 1300 youths in ICT related fields over the past year. For 2022, some 3000 youths will benefit from ICT training.

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