Entrepreneurs-in-Training from the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology swept up all three top prizes at the recently concluded Hack4Oil Hackathon organized by Penplusbytes.
The two day event was held at the New Media Hub in central Accra, where talented programmers, entrepreneurs, and civil society organizations worked together to figure out ways to use technology to bring transparency and accountability to Ghana’s nascent oil and gas sector. The hackathon participants were challenged to come up with a solution, build a functioning prototype of the technology, and pitch it to panel of judges.
The eager participants quickly divided into nine teams and were paired with industry experts from both the public and the private sector who provided important insights into the Ghanaian oil and gas industry. The teams also had access to experienced mentors who gave advice on product development, strategy, and how to effectively communicate their solution during the final pitch.
Two days with little sleep and many lines of code later, it was time for the final pitch. The judges evaluated the solutions based on criteria such as the quality of the prototype, the idea’s ability to be self-sustaining, and the quality of the pitch.
1st Place: Oil Journey
Team Oil Journey emerged as the winner, with their website that allows users to follow the money from oil revenues as it is spent by the government on various social and civil projects in the users’ community. The website also allows users to report on the progress of projects. The Oil Journey team consisted of MESTers David Mumuni, Alfred Ayi-Bonte, and Abideen Adelu.
2nd Place: Bale
Team Bale presented a web platform that helps local SMEs take advantage of the business opportunities in the oil and gas sector. The team was MESTers Lady Omega Hammond, Abdul Suleman, Eli Agbenu, and Blessing Onomesino.
3rd Place: Planeteers
In third place was team Planeteers with a service for citizens and NGOs who live and work in areas impacted by oil and gas exploration. Users could submit findings and data in a public format that made it easy for the media to shed light on potential issues arising from oil exploration. Team Planeteers consisted of MESTers Jesse Johnson, Cheryl Tetteh, and Saviour Dzage.
Beyond the hacks and the cash prizes, it was exciting to see the Ghanaian tech community thriving and coming out to contribute their invaluable skills to important social issues. The quality of the solutions was also impressively high given the short time period.
I have strong belief in technology’s ability to bring about positive impact on society, and that belief was reinforced by seeing the talented programmers and entrepreneurs out in force at the Hack4Oil hackathon. Thanks to the organisers and sponsors for a great event.