Hacklab 2021 ends with nine commercially viable AI solutions


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the main driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). And it is not a new concept as, for decades, computers have been programmed by humans to make decisions on available facts. But what is different now, as technology advances every day, is an

evolution in machine learning. Machines are now developing what is known as ‘tacit knowledge’, which is essentially how the human mind works. And this will only improve with the explosion of data.

The just-ended 5th edition of the Annual Hacklab Hackathon brought together over 800 software developers, experts, policymakers, academics and industry players to discuss the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning; and develop solutions to address identified problems in the areas of Agriculture, Financial Technology, Healthcare, eCommerce, Mobility, Internet of Things, Education and Communication.

Through a combination of several tools used to streamline the collaboration between participating teams, 10 facilitators, 8 judges, 30+ speakers, 50+ mentors, 4 recruiters and the execution team, a successful virtual edition of Africa’s largest hackathon was hosted.

The opening ceremony took place at the Stanbic Business Incubator (SBIncubator), Silver Star Towers, Accra, Ghana, and witnessed remarks from the Board of Trustees for the Hacklab Foundation, Stanbic Bank Ghana, GIZ and Twitter.

“The Hacklab Foundation is a unique foundation for young people, and at the core of the digital era is building the necessary capacity to sustain the digital revolution by providing young people with the right skill-set for future jobs. We are building a repository of skills to close the digital skills gap in Africa and help industry leverage these to meet their human capital needs,” said Franklin Asare, the Board chair and CEO of TechGulf, who spoke on behalf of the Board of Trustees for the Hacklab Foundation.

“GIZ is happy to support this year’s hackathon because we believe in building local capacity and promoting local innovations in the digital space. Through the ‘FAIR Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All’ project – a German Development Cooperation project implemented by GIZ, we are working toward a more open, inclusive and sustainable approach to artificial intelligence globally, while supporting more local open innovations for sustainable human development in our partner countries,” said the NIED Cluster Coordinator, Gerald Guskowski, speaking on behalf of the GIZ Ghana.

Mr. Guskowski also mentioned that the Hacklab Hackathon aligns perfectly with action areas 1 and 2 of GIZ FAIR Forward. These are to improve technical capacity and provide access to datasets for innovative AI solutions. The hackathon provides the opportunity for participants to develop their skills through learning by doing.  Also, participants will have access to various kinds of data for solving problems.

“I am excited to see Hacklab reach its five-year milestone, and still remember my experience in prior years. Stanbic Bank is happy to be part of this journey since its inception, and even more excited about our participation beyond the hackathon.

“We have, over the years, recruited talent from Hacklab to join Stanbic Bank for their internships, national service; and some of them have transitioned into employees. We look forward to doing the same this year,” said Ben Mensah, Head of Wealth, West Africa-Standard Bank Group, speaking on behalf of Stanbic Bank Ghana.

“For the Hacklab Foundation to centre this year’s hackathon around AI, Tech Policy and Innovation, it really comes at a monumental time for Africa and the world at large. With our economies reliant on digital technologies, open Internet is a foundational pillar on which post-COVID recovery must be built.

“The global initiatives we have launched in partnership with various stakeholders worldwide to amplify credible and authoritative information wouldn’t have been possible without it. Twitter looks forward to joining, contributing, and supporting this conversation further,” said, Emmanuel Lubanzadio, Head of Policy, Philanthropy and Government Relations, sub-Saharan Africa, speaking on behalf of Twitter.

Among the many AI solutions that emerged out of the programme, the top-9 stood out and won the competition’s awards, and these included:

  • Team Zetta from Ashesi University emerging as overall winner with their early diagnosis of Autism, using a portable and Low-cost Electroencephalography device with automated diagnosis.
  • Team ToMame emerging as winners of the AI in eCommerce and Education categories
  • Team DreamCode emerging as winners of the AI in Mobility category
  • Team Binary Wolves emerging as winners of the AI in Healthcare category
  • Team Legions emerging as winners of the AI in Communications category
  • Team Techpreneurs emerging as winners of the AI in Big Data category
  • Team Bernoulli emerging as winners of the AI in FinTech category
  • Team URC emerging as winners of the AI in the Internet of Things category
  • Team Concept_X emerging as winners of the AI in Agriculture category

The teams will receive seed funding, a 12-week GIZ fully-sponsored AI Accelerator Programme with Founder’s Institute to scale their solutions into startup businesses, and business development support from the Stanbic Business Incubator. They will also receive perks from Vodafone, IBM and Africa’s Talking to support the development of their solutions into commercial standard products/services.

Also speaking at the event, Founder and President of the Hacklab Foundation, Foster Awintiti Akugri, announced the launch of Hacklab Nigeria, Hacklab Zambia, and Hacklab South Africa to follow later this year.

The event was headlined by Twitter, Stanbic Bank Ghana, GIZ, Vodafone and IBM; and supported by QodeHub, Africa’s Talking, Ashesi D:Lab, Founders Institute Ghana, Doughman Foods, Ninety3 Studios, Paragon Studios, Digital Times Africa, Dartey Media, iMullar, VOME, Hyperactive Digital, Konnekt World and Reset Global People.

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