Africa-Press – Botswana. Indian High Commissioner has awarded certificates and money to four participants who represented Botswana at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) India-Africa (UIA) Hackathon.

The hackathon is an annual 36-hour event that brings together students, educators, teachers and researchers of India and its African partners to tackle common challenges faced by their countries through coding.

Speaking at the ceremony, High Commissioner, Mr Bharath Kuthati congratulated the four participants who were declared winners at UIA.

He said Botswana and India shared a close relationship as they were both beacons of law and peace.

He said India continued to play an important role in capacity building and development assistance to Botswana.

He also noted that every year Botswana sent over 200 employees to enrol in fully funded short-term courses at prominent Indian universities, adding that they provided 54 scholarships each year to Batswana students.

“Not only that, 61 slots are provided to Botswana Defence Force for upgrading skills in some of the most prestigious institutions in India,” said the High Commissioner.

The participants’ coding mettle was put to the test in a gruelling 36-hour hackathon. It had five sub-themes of education, energy, potable water and sanitation, agriculture and health and hygiene. Over 100 teams participated.

Speaking at the ceremony, Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Ms Nnaniki Makwinja said the country needed 21st Century skills.

“For Botswana to transform into a high-income economy, it is important that we adopt digital and knowledge-based systems which require skills and talents in computer programming and information technology,” she said, adding that she was proud that four local students emerged victories in the hackathon.

With over a thousand universities and specialised institutions, Ms Makwinja said India was an important centre of higher learning in the STEM fields.

She noted that many self-financing students were going to India for university education at affordable prices.

One of the winners, a University of Botswana student, Mr Rapelang Mathibe said their journey to India was nothing short of exhilarating. He said the hackathon was an arena where brilliance converged and innovation flourished. He added that collaborating with some of Africa’s brightest minds was enriching.

“The hackathon presented us with a unique opportunity to apply these technologies in real-world challenges, sparking our imaginations and igniting the fires of creativity,” he said.

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