Khonology entrepreneur and developer Absalom Mpanze has scooped one of the top prizes in the GeoJozi Challenge, a worldwide initiative for users of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate applications that are making a difference in society.
The awards were made on international Geographic Information Systems (GIS) day and Absalom was one of three young Jozi developers that were rewarded for their compelling digital location solutions which will best solve Joburg’s street address issues.
Street addresses that are not clearly displayed or not displayed at all make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to deliver essential services to residents of the city. In some informal settlements, there are still areas where street addresses don’t exist at all.
The absence of visible accurate street addresses and the lack of any street addresses in some areas is holding back the City of Joburg in its drive to become a smart city. Street addresses specify points of service delivery, they are essential for electricity, water, refuse, sewage, emergency services, land ownership, parcel deliveries, safety and security, being able to vote and countless other critical services and functions.
In partnership with Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and mapping software company Esri South Africa, the City of Joburg called on Joburg developers aged 30 years and younger to assist. From 80 entries, ten finalists were selected and trained.
Thapelo Sekwena won the challenge and earned R150 000 for an app that uses gaming and crowdsourcing to reward users for submitting places that need addressing or validation. Methembe Dlamini won R100 000 for his app which allows residents to confirm their correct address and to report any issues to alert the city as well as other citizens such as high accident zones, potholes or high crime spots.
Absalom earned R50 000 for his app that takes advantage of someone’s unique position to generate a code for that position, and then allocates an address as a code. He is passionate about technology and currently works as a consultant at Standard Bank as an analyst developer.
Khonology CEO Michael Roberts is extremely proud of Absalom’s achievement. “The GeoJozi award he received proves that Africa has got talent and with the right guidance, Africa’s youth can be at the forefront of solving the problems that lie across our country.
“He has always proved that he would make a great developer, this was evident during the Future Talent Academy technical training, where he was amongst the top developers in his class,” he explains.
“I developed an app which takes advantage of your unique position to generate a code for that position and in that way it allocates an address as a code. I needed to upgrade my skills to solve the GeoJozi Challenge,” says Absalom.
“The training and the competition helped me to learn how to develop a user-friendly android app. It was very competitive and the other developers were more experienced than I am. I really had to raise my game to reach their level. I now want to start my own business and implement my idea for public use,” he adds.
Roberts is highly impressed at how rapid his skills have developed since becoming a Khonology developer. “Khonology would like to commend Absalom’s effort and attitude towards mastering his programming skills, we stand behind him, supporting him as he grows further, and we commit to our mantra to Empower Africa through technology.”
The winners also received membership to the Digital Innovation Zone at the Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein for a year, giving them access to working space and support by leading technical experts.