Want to put your coding skills to good use? Here’s your chance

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This is pretty damn cool. It’s a chance for digital activists, designers, developers and data journalists to use their tech skills for good.

In what its organisers are calling “South Africa’s first ever civic hackathon”, techies will be called upon to “build web and software applications that will help make government more accountable”.

The event, called Code4Democracy, is the brainchild of the Open Data & Democracy Initiative (ODADI) and will offer R25 000 in cash prizes and tech support “for ideas that have the potential to empower ordinary citizens, make government more transparent, or make public services more efficient and open”.

The organisation says it “hopes to spark experimentation” by providing access to some of the country’s previously difficult to find databases, including the national and Cape Town budgets, Service Delivery Agreements and contact information for constituency representatives, for participants to use as ‘feedstock’ for their hackathon ideas.

The initiative is reportedly inspired by similar campaigns that have revolutionised the way that civic debate and public accountability works everywhere from Kenya and Ghana, to further north in the USA and Europe. ODADI hopes to build on South Africa’s early support for the Open Government Partnership, by inspiring a grassroots data-driven movement in South Africa, giving ordinary citizens the tools and information they need to make better informed choices about public issues.

ODADI says that it bases its principles on the South African constitution, and claims that it does not align itself with any political party or other political interest group.

Code4Democracy officially launches on Friday 3 August, with hackathon set to kick off the next day.

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