As the South African tech ecosystem grows at own pace with various activities taking place on the ground, we need to assess, monitor, nurture, account, guide and forecast the grow of the digital ecosystem. Summer Developer Days (#SummerDevDays) is a 2-day of coding where one learns from the community and gets rewarded on the effort.

Hosted by the UNISA School of Computing and Geekulcha, the aim was to create an enabling environment for local techies to connect and build capacity on their skills. On 01 - 02 December at UNISA Muckleneuk campus, the event was attended by 136 aspiring developers, high school learners, designers, government officials, etc. with some coming all the way from Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. MC’d by Ms Thulisile Dlamini of Ikusasa Technology Solutions.

On his opening address, Professor Ernest Mnkandla of UNISA highlighted their annual programmes and hackathons to drive Open Source and enable socially-relevant innovation. “We love Open Source because it gives one freedom in the world to create anything”, he said.

Minister Stella Ndabeni Abrahams: “We cannot build a capable 4IR without coders”

SummerDevDays 2018 was themed “Living 4IR”, as such the “4IR Commander-in-Chief”, Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams of Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services attended the event to give a keynote address and spend some time with the young Geeks as they code for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Deputy Speaker Mlibo Qoboshiyane: “We need to see smart villages”

The Deputy Speaker of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Hon. Mlibo Qomoshiyane was also amongst the distinguished guests and addressed the event. “This revolution (4IR) is like a volcanic eruption”, said the Deputy Speaker. He echoed and urged the techies to build better societies and that it was his wish to see smart villages in our lifetime.

To set the tone and drive momentum around hackathons such as the ITWeb Security Summit, a panel discussion on Dark Social and Dark Patterns was hosted and facilitated by the acting Executive Director of the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), Ms Qinisile Delwa and joined by Dr Jabu Mtsweni - CSIR, Ms Nomso Kana - SUN 'n SHIELD, Ms Doreen Mokoena - ZADNA and Ms Nelisa Ngqulana - PR Trends ZA.

The Weekend of Code: To motivate the coders, the 15-year old Machine Learning Coder, Sifiso Nkabinde motivated the developers. Mr Ivan Regasek, the CEO of ITWeb also gave a talk on history of programme and highlighted that “Javascript is the English of Programming (Coding)”.

CEO of Lepsta, Sithembiso Khumalo took the participants through Version Control (Git) and a number of GitHub accounts were created during the weekend. Participants committed their code accordingly as this was part of the judging criteria.

Got Code Blues? - “We have Code Clinics for that!”

Participants got a helping hand with their code throughout the weekend with various Code Clinic stations being set up at the venue as such:

  • IoT/Electronics: RS Components with PiTops, participants learned and coded with C# through Raspberry Pis and Arduinos.
  • Web Development: Ikusasa Technology Solutions helped first time coders with web development skills.
  • Maker Corner: Brain Hack Developers - all things electronics, they had participants covered
  • Robotics (lego): Tech Savvy Kids made and played around with robots coded with Node RAD
  • Space Tech: Reacoda, data collection to build up space heritage

At the end of the event, about 30 code projects with 24 having being presented - participants would had learned a new language/tool or having improved on their craft, highlighted:

TB Test Machine Learning solution to help with efficient diagnosis of tuberculosis
Honeypot server to deceive cybercriminals as an Information Security protector
Data mining with an IoT underground lights system

Cash Prizes were given to the accordingly: Beginner (Tshimo, 13); Intermediate (TBTest, high scholars) and Advanced (Cedrick Mkhabela).

Team TBTest won Best Coders of weekend - got the trophy by Ikusasa Tecnology Solutions.

Lepsta sponsored cool speakers for prizes: Kamogelo Thebe won Best Female Star and Clean Code with GKSS VUT having won Best Use of Git.

RS Components sponsored 2 toolbox with (with Arduino, Rapsberry Pi including modules and tools): Best of Electronics

Following the resounding success of the SummerDevDays event, we will be making this event as a seasonal event and in different provinces: AutomDevDays (Open Data - Free State or Eastern Cape), WinterDevDays (Cyber Security - Western Cape), SpringDevDays (Public Service focused - Gauteng) and SummerDevDays (Living4IR - Gauteng).

“These skills being built up through the Dev Days will be utilized in various hackathons to help with innovation development and ignite new tech startups. We hope to see more coders emerge in 2019 editions”, says Geekulcha COO, Tiyani Nghonyama.

Checkout all the photos