Two youths studying coding – creating instructions for computers – have won the iLembe ICT Project Launchpad competition winning R10 000 each.

Kaitlin Pillay from Mandeni and Thabiso Ndlovu from KwaDukuza entered the competition as part of the Vuthela iLembe Local Economic Development Programme’s iLembe ICT Project.

Of the 52 youths enrolled in the project, 27 qualified and set about designing a technical solution to a problem faced by a local business. All put their coding skills to use, creating websites for businesses and NGOs. Of the 27 websites presented, 10 were chosen as finalists and the youth had to present their websites to a panel of judges and explain how they went about developing them.

The judges were made up of some of the Project Steering Committee members, Wisemen Cele from the KwaDukuza youth office, Fanele Mazibuko from Enterprise iLembe, and Shannon Moffett of the Vuthela Programme. Judging was done on the extent to which the website met the needs of the business or NGO, the technical proficiency of the website, creativity, and how the youth communicated to the judging panel.

While all websites were of a high standard, Kaitlin and Thabiso were adjudged to be winners and received their prizes from Gisela Roth visiting from the Swiss offices of the Vuthela funders, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and Judith Shoniwa from the South African SECO office in Pretoria.

Both winners were very surprised, neither having done coding prior to starting their studies through the project service provider, IT Varsity. Totally online, the youth are making use of the Enterprise iLembe incubator and the Moses Kotane Institute Digital Centre in Mandeni to complete their 12-month course.

Thabiso couldn’t wait to get home to tell his mum, saying “she is going to be very happy about this”. Kaitlin said she has “absolutely loved the course, always having a love for IT but never an opportunity to try coding”. She now hopes to go to university next year to study computer science. Thabsio has also been bitten by the tech bug and is planning to enrol in college to study systems development, a new passion that he has discovered during his studies.


PIC: Thabiso Ndlovu and Kaitlin Pillay