The Empire Partner Foundation (EPF) has challenged young software developers and tech entrepreneurs to find digital solutions to address South Africa’s energy challenges.
State-owned power utility Eskom, which provides over 90% of South Africa’s electricity, has over the years implemented multiple bouts of load-shedding, much to the detriment of the fragile economy.
Tech non-profit organisation, EPF, recently hosted an energy hackathon to seek solutions to end the perennial load-shedding problem.
Challenges to finding solutions to the electricity shortage ranged from envisioning the power needs of the country to quantifying the benefits of renewable energy projects.
The event was supported by a host of energy partners both in industry and within the EPF ecosystem.
The quest by EPF comes at a time the country is pinning its hopes on renewable energy to resuscitate its frail energy sector.
In that regard, the EPF says it wants tech to be at the centre of firm steps to bring additional generation capacity online as quickly as possible to close the shortfall.
At the event, held last weekend from 23 to 24 April, developers had 48 hours to come up with a solution to one challenge.
Teams presented their solutions in a short pitch to a judging panel.
Top teams progressed to the final judging round to pitch against each other in pursuit of three grand prizes.
Team Juvinae Tech came first, receiving R8 000 for their solution to the Juvinae Smart Energy.
Members of the team comprised Letlhogonolo Koikoi (Team Leader), Sharon Mathabathe, Nozipho Mthembu, Sibonginkosi Mazibuko, Lundiphile Matomela, and Emmanuel Nsanga.
“This is a business networking platform for all players in the renewable energy space,” explains team leader, Letlhogonolo Koikoi.
“The main players are Independent Power Producers, renewable energy companies, and potential investors of renewable energy projects.
“The platform allows all players to engage on projects that have been approved by the Juvinae team. It allows businesses to view other businesses that are involved in similar activities.”
“As a team, we feel so good that we won. Actually, it was a surprise that we won. Totally unexpected. We were all shocked when we saw our team’s name as the winning team.
“Perhaps that’s because we were not so focused on winning as a team and more on coming up with a great idea to present to the judges.
“The competitiveness of this competition was not really felt from our end as we were a virtual team working from home and were unable to see any of our competition.”
Organisers said the hackathon event was important to inspire a generation of young energy leaders.
Jasmine Mokwena, the Face of EPF, and Marketing and Hackathon Event Coordinator said: “Energy is one of the 10 challenges EPF focuses on. Energy is a national crisis. Load shedding is not foreign to all of us.
“It negatively impacts the livelihood of South Africans and hinders economic development drastically by slowing down production, healthcare, food hygiene, profits, and creates road accidents from traffic light outages.
“Renewable energy, like solar and wind, compared to non-renewable energy (fossil-fuel) like coal, is more sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective.
“Our EPF hackathons serve as a great opportunity for South African youth to collaborate with each other, and discover their potential to use their skills in contributing to the economy of South Africa.”