Building Community Hackathon Series

Creating innovative digital solutions to key social, environmental, health, and economic challenges facing South Africans today.


An event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.

about us

The Silicon Cape Initiative is partnering with the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in South Africa to host four hackathons — two in Cape Town and two in Johannesburg. The hackathons focus on a real-world challenge that South Africans face today, like preventing gender-based violence, unemployment, or lack of access to economic opportunities.

We are looking for emerging software developers, IT professionals and trainers, civil society organisations, academics and professionals in relevant fields of chosen topics to join us.

We have R160 000 up for grabs to winning teams and also spot prizes during the duration of hackathons.

You do not want to miss out!

Participating in the hackathon will give you the opportunity to meet new people, learn more about design thinking, service design and come with an innovative and socially impactful service or product.

Who is
The Silicon Cape Initiative?

Silicon Cape is an NPO and an ecosystem enabler for tech-enabled startups in the boarder Cape Region of South Africa. We work to connect stakeholders, curate ecosystem data, amplify the stories coming out of the ecosystem and advocate on behalf of stakeholders through its membership programme.

Who is
the U.S. Embassy?

The United States Diplomatic Mission to South Africa represents the government of the United States in South Africa. In addition to the Embassy in Pretoria it includes Consulates in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. The Public Affairs Section of the Embassy and its Consulates provides occasional funding opportunities for projects and activities that support our Public Diplomacy work in South Africa.

See for more about the work of the U.S. Embassy.

Project Background

Hackathons for South Africa: Digital Solutions for Real World

In 2019, the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section selected The Silicon Cape Initiative to run a series of hackathons in South Africa to build technical, problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaborative skills among emerging software developers to strengthen their employability and help drive economic growth. At the same time, the hackathons are intended to create innovative digital solutions to key social, environmental, health, and economic challenges as well as strengthen people-to-people ties between the United States and South Africa through exchanges of information, experiences, and expertise.

The first hackathon was held in November 2019 in Cape Town and focused on solutions to prevent gender-based violence. COVID required that Silicon Cape pivot to a virtual hackathon model, and so the second hackathon was held virtually in October 2020 in coordination with the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg and the Rosa Parks Library. Participants came up with innovative solutions to address community safety challenges.

Building on the success of the virtual hackathon model, the third hackathon, scheduled for June 2021, will also be virtual and will focus on accelerating economic growth in township-based small businesses. The fourth and final hackathon is targeted for the end of 2021.

Will Stevens, Acting Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town says: “As the cradle of the fourth industrial revolution, the United States understands the tremendous impact that crowd-sourcing and digital creativity can have in solving the tough problems in our societies. That is why we are so proud to sponsor Silicon Cape’s upcoming series of Hackathons in South Africa. We believe that these programmes will bring top coders, young entrepreneurs and civic activists together to help address tough issues in South African Society.”

“We are incredibly proud to have been selected and this honour further proves that the Cape is indeed considered a hub for innovation. We look forward to seeing the solutions that emerge from the hackathons and how they can benefit South Africans,” adds Silicon Cape Chairperson, Dr Sumarie Roodt.