The inaugural #Hack.Jozi challenge was won by budding entrepreneur Desmond Mongwe, whose app, MoWallet, is a revolutionary way to supply and redeem coupons.
#Hack.Jozi is an initiative of the city of Johannesburg and Wits University. It targets talented young developers and digital creatives, giving them a platform to design digital solutions to the city’s issues.
The MoWallet developers received R1-million for their app, while the first and second runners-up each received R350 000. They are Lazy Lizzard, whose innovative educational app is relevant to the junior school curriculum and accessible online and offline; as well as Move This Stuff, for its logistics app that provides cost effective removal and transport options.
At the celebration dinner held at the university’s Origins Centre, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau said: “The city of Johannesburg’s smart city strategy is aimed at empowering citizen participation through digital solutions. Digital technology breaks down barriers to entry rather than raising them.”
Access to the internet was no longer a luxury but a necessity, he added. “We hope that many things will start here tonight, but the important thing to remember is that the digital revolution must eventually reach out to every corner of the city.”
BEST OF OVER 140
The three innovations were among more than 140 digital solutions to everyday problems entered in the #Hack.Jozi “digital boot camp” over the past year. From 140, the entries were first whittled down to 43 and later to the last 10.
“Winning this prize will enable MoWallet to create a distribution network across spaza shops in townships and rural areas,” Mongwe said: “We are currently running a pilot in Soweto and we will expand on that. By January next year we expect to have reached more than 1 000 spazas.”
Percy Lawrence of Move This Stuff, the second runner-up, said: “Move This Stuff is a logistics platform designed to be a Google-for-logistics platform, for South Africa, and beyond.”
The first runner-up, Niel Peters of Lazy Lizzard, said: “I enjoyed every moment of the #Hack.Jozi Challenge. It helped me focus on an aspect of my business that I would probably only have thought about or focused on much later.
“It also broadened my horizons by giving me perspective of other people outside my circle and by exposing me to their thoughts, ideas and ideals.”
A SMART CITY
Tau spoke about how #Hack.Jozi was just one way to find innovative ways to make Johannesburg a better smart city and among the best in the world.
According to Joburg, a smart city is an environmentally friendly city created from a combination of concepts and technologies. These include the enhancement of energy efficiency, and water and waste management, coupled with the conservation of resources.
Positioning Joburg as a smart and caring city is tabled in the Joburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy. This strategy comprises the city’s vision for its future, and defines clear outcomes against which to measure progress.
The three drivers behind Joburg 2040 are:
- Sustainability – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the city’s carbon footprint, reducing water wastage and making clean water available and accessible.
- Build to last – protecting the natural environment, improving public administration and implementing smart energy.
- Economic development – making it easy to do business, making the city an attractive investment destination, enhancing competitiveness, building a robust information communication technology infrastructure, improving information accessibility and making the city marketable.