Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
To promote the knowledge of Information Technology among young people in Bayelsa, the state government has partnered with the private sector in organising a hackathon, a tech event, where coders and programmers work in teams to provide solutions for problems using technology.
Speaking during the programme, Co-founder, iVillaSquare, Abiye Nyanabo, coordinator of the Yenagoa smart city hackathons, said the 24-hour event was to help identify everyday problems that affect the state and provide easy, usable IT solutions.
He noted that, for instance, in the state’s health insurance programme, the participants drawn from Rivers, Bayelsa and Lagos would attempt to provide a USSD-based payment solution to allow people in remote villages key into it without the hassles of using a middleman.
“What this means is that you can use your phone, you can use any phone to register for health insurance the same way you would have done, if you are working in the civil service.
“It means that an old woman in Kaiama or any of these local government areas, can be part of the health insurance scheme by paying a premium through recharge cards or whatever it is and she can walk into any health facility and get solutions. That’s the accessible health insurance we talk about,” he said.
He added that during the event, the participants created a platform that brings together farmers and traders in all the markets in the state just by using a device that would give them the average price of goods in all the markets.
“Three, we are talking about modern schools in Bayelsa. When you have five modern schools, in different local governments, how do you know for instance the ratio at every point in time of boys to girls.
“How does the commissioner, sit in his office without reports coming in manually to know whether people are dropping out and the tuition rate in the school. How does he know standards for instance. We are doing school feeding programmes, whether the feeding programme, is running the way it should on a daily basis.
“The Commissioner should be able to know the state of the schools per day or per week and he should know the position of various qualitative indices and that is what the young people are working on to try and provide solutions”.
According to Nyanabo, the young people are also expected to work on creating security-related solutions to reduce robberies and kidnapping.
“We have heard so much about tricycle robberies right in this town but there is nothing like a biometric system that links a keke to an individual. it’s so simple, and yet it’s so far .
“Why can we not know that this is the face attached to that keke. If people know, people will be careful . Every day, you hear people are being robbed but these things are not things that government will come and do .
“Young people who have gone to school, who have interest, passion in technology can sit down and come up with solutions,” he noted.
With a prize money attached, he said that the participants were also looking at other problems that are peculiar to the state and create a competitive environment, where people can come and hack out solutions.
He said: “It is the first one here in Bayelsa state. You have to be in a team minimum of two persons to four persons and you don’t have to be a tech person to be on the team because most of the solutions we use are not for tech people.
“People have come from Port Harcourt, people have come from Lagos, people have come from Bayelsa, to come together to get a solution and they have been here for 24 hours, hacking all through the night, writing codes and testing”
He stressed that the initiators will also offer ‘incubation’ where participants will get professional advice and mentorship.