Third-year IT student among Hackathon winners in India

Using machine learning, Tjikumise participated in developing an application that predicts the best fertiliser for specific crops.
Simon Namesho
Held annually, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) India-Africa Hackathon is a 36-hour event that brings together students, educators, teachers and the research community to tackle common challenges. It also serves as a facilitator for cultural amalgamation.

The Hackathon provides a platform for young innovators to come together and find solutions for social, environmental and technical problems faced by the collaborating nations.

It serves as the foundation for creating start-ups with the potential to transform the world. It allows the participating students to unleash their creativity and explore new technologies to solve real-world problems under the guidance of experts – thus, spearheading business innovation in the modern world.

Twenty competing teams were awarded as winners, of which one of them had a University of Namibia (Unam) student as a member. The education fair centered on five themes, including health and hygiene, agriculture, water and sanitation, energy, and education.

Shaun Tjikumise and his team worked on the agriculture theme. Under this theme, they developed an application that predicts the best fertiliser for specific crops, using machine learning. Tjikumise is a third-year student at Unam, doing a bachelor of science in information technology degree.

“I have made friends from all over Africa and India. I have really learnt a lot in terms of programming and cultural awareness," he said.

Collaboration of the student teams to solve shared problems opens doors to cultural assimilation by introducing students and their mentors to methods, values and manners different from their own.

Leonard Imene from the innovation and development accelerator in the Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Namibia accompanied the participating students to India.

“The Hackathon provided a great platform for building collaborative partnerships and alliances between Namibian students and their peers from other participating countries.

“It is crucial for Namibian youth to participate in these types of initiatives to be able to spearhead the future local digital ecosystem.”

The nine students from Unam were joined at the Hackathon by six computer science students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). This year, 603 students from 22 African nations participated in the event.

Participating students from Namibia were sponsored by Unesco and the government of India through its ministry of education's innovation cell. Additional support was provided by Unam, NUST and the Namibian government through the ministry of information and communications technology, the High Commission of India in Namibia, and the High Commission of Namibia in India.