‘AI for Social Good' hackathon yields promising solutions

Lungile Msomi
By Lungile Msomi, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 18 Sept 2023
Team Syneru, winners of the BCX Alibaba Cloud Hackathon.
Team Syneru, winners of the BCX Alibaba Cloud Hackathon.

BCX and Alibaba Cloud partnered to host a hackathon over the weekend.

Themed “AI for Social Good”, the event took place in Johannesburg and virtually, drawing a diverse group of technologists, developers and artificial intelligence (AI) enthusiasts from across South Africa.

Hosting 21 teams from four countries − Mozambique, Lesotho, Kenya and South Africa − over two days, the hackathon saw teams create an AI app using the tools offered by Alibaba Cloud.

Facilitated by Geekulcha, the hackathon aimed to harness the power of AI to tackle pressing societal challenges faced by SA and the continent at large.

BCX and Alibaba joined forces to encourage innovation in the domain of AI, while emphasising its potential to drive positive social change.

The BCX Alibaba Cloud hackathon targeted developers who have skills or an understanding of JavaScript or Python development.

The winning team took home R20 000, while second place received R10 000, with R5 000 going to the third-placed team.

In first place was team Syneru, which has been working together for over a year. The team created SynJ2P, an AI assistant that democratises access to legal services. SynJ2P is designed to simplify complex legal jargon, reduce exorbitant legal fees and make quality legal advice accessible to all.

Second place went to team Initialzr, who met on the first day of the hackathon. The team created an AI assistant chatbot, named after the team, which makes cloud accessible for everyone. The Initialzr chatbot aims to teach, automate and maintain cloud services for those who need assistance.

Team Prime took third place, with a human-like bot that aids in interview training preparation, in a bid to help decrease the unemployment rate.

Reshal Seetahal, head of the Alibaba Cloud business unit at BCX, says the hackathon shone a spotlight on the young developers in the country.