what is a hackathon- Hackathon in Africa

What is a Hackathon

According to Wikipedia, A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest; a portmanteau of a hacking marathon) is a design sprint-like event; often, in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, domain experts, and others collaborate intensively on software projects.


Hackathon is a convergence of tech creatives like developers, designers, and entrepreneurs collaborating in teams to provide innovative solutions to a specific problem across sectors, deploying tech as a tool. Most hackathons are attached to a theme. E.g, A hackathon for the awareness of future of work, creation of jobs, and so on. Hackathon can be in any form as long as it enhances collaboration and solves a problem.
Since the creation, every human achievement always comes with adversity from the era of industrialization to technology. Let’s come to think of it, we human are challenged with more adversity at this age of technology, problems like cyber-crimes among others. Hackathons are designed to tackle specific problems and challenges, such as the Sterling bank’s Hack to Bank Challenge, designed to build the bank of the future.


Ideas aren’t just built during this process but also nurtured into viable finished products susceptible to global marketing and scaling. At every hackathon event, grand prizes are attached to the best ideas and products that champion various available categories. Teams that come up with ideas that emerge top 3 in each category based on the grading, are pronounced winners of the hackathon and also will be supported with adequate resources to develop the idea into a profitable venture.


Hackathons can be online or offline. Online hackathons involve an all-hacking process being done virtually. Recently most online-based hackathons employ tools like Mattermost, Slack, Devpost as a primary collaborating tool to house all participants which provide a similar environment and arouses the same spirit as housing them offline. Offline hackathons principally involve the convergence of all participating hackers under the same roof to hack on their project. In an offline hackathon, the provision of certain basic resources such as conducive accommodation, uninterrupted power supply, internet, food and security becomes the sole responsibility of the organizers.

Aside from having a defined purpose, hackathons are governed by a set of laid down rules, guidelines and expectation from the participant. Hackathons are structured in a way to enhance collaboration between team members. Therefore, hackathons that involve working with people from different fields or backgrounds which might seem difficult at first, create a rule of working with people in the opposite niche like marketing. Most hackathons are mandated to have a developer, a designer and an entrepreneur within a team depending on the number of individuals that makes a team.

The benefit of a hackathon is often bigger than the winning price. An avenue to network with different experienced and new creative minds within and outside your niche, a hackathon can spring up one’s learning curves or introduce a new field of interest entirely. YES, nothing is bigger than winning the main price that will open doors to bigger opportunities. But let’s face it, not everyone will come out with a groundbreaking idea. So, hackathons are too short not to explore.
One of the most interesting parts of hackathons is swags and giveaways. Hackathon organizer always has their way to distribute items gifted by their sponsors and partners, making every participant, spectator feel inclusive like they actually won something. Giveaways might be for good design implementation or team with the best use of a product of the sponsors. The good part is, everyone will go home with something. Everyone wins.

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