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USAID partners with Vodafone Egypt to launch 2nd edition of Vodafone’s AI Assistive Tools Hackathon

This hackathon brings together young innovators, developers, and technology enthusiasts from all over Egypt to leverage technological innovation to help create inclusive, safe, and efficient workplaces for everyone, especially persons with disabilities

Thu, May. 30, 2024

As part of its pioneering efforts to enhance inclusive innovation, the US Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Economic Governance Activity, is proud to partner with Vodafone Egypt, the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Plug and Play Egypt, and the ATAA Charitable Investment Fund, in launching the second edition of “Vodafone’s AI Assistive Tools Hackathon”.

This hackathon brings together young innovators, developers, and technology enthusiasts from all over Egypt to leverage technological innovation to help create inclusive, safe, and efficient workplaces for everyone, especially persons with disabilities.

Over three days, from May 30 to June 1, around 100 Egyptian participants will develop technological solutions that alleviate the obstacles facing persons with disabilities in the work environment, implementing 6 teams from different governorates (Menoufia, Assiut, Luxor, Alexandria, Suhag, Qalyoubia and Ismailia). 

Under the guidance of experts from USAID, Vodafone Egypt, and Plug and Play, participants will work collaboratively to create prototypes that leverage the power of artificial intelligence to complement human capabilities and facilitate access to technology for persons with disabilities.

The competition will provide an outstanding opportunity for participants. The first-place team will receive initial funding of 600,000 Egyptian pounds, generously provided by Vodafone Egypt and the Charitable Investment Fund for Supporting People with Disabilities.

Additionally, the top three teams will benefit from comprehensive training at Plug and Play Egypt, supported by the Economic Governance Activity funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). They will also receive technological tools to continue developing their solutions."

In his address to the audience, Sean Jones, the Mission Director for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Egypt, expressed his pride in partnering with the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Vodafone Egypt, ATAA Fund, and Plug & Play. 

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Sean Jones, Mission Director - USAID Egypt

He emphasized that disability is not a limitation but rather one dimension of diversity that enriches our collective experience.  Events like this hackathon provide a platform for collaboration, creativity, and collective problem-solving, reminding us that innovation knows no bounds.

Jones further affirmed that by working together across different sectors, we can overcome even the most challenging obstacles.  He underscored the pivotal role of the private sector in driving innovations and solutions to empower people with disabilities. 

The ultimate goal is to create lasting change that transcends borders, cultures, and generations, building a society where inclusion is not an afterthought but a fundamental principle woven into every aspect of our lives.  He also highlighted the U.S. government's commitment to partnering with the private sector to promote a shared culture of comprehensive innovation.

At the beginning of his speech, Catalin Buliga, Technology Director at Vodafone, expressed his delight in announcing the launch of the Second Edition of the Vodafone AI Assistive Tools Hackathon, he also acknowledged his gratitude to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Ataa Fund and Plug & Play for their valuable partnership in this event.

Buliga stated in his speech “At Vodafone Egypt, we believe that diversity and inclusion are the keys to fostering innovation and positive change in the industry."  He further discussed the role of technology in providing comprehensive digital services to customers, improving the quality of life for millions of people, reducing inequality, and encouraging innovation.

In her speech, Amira Al-Rifai, the Executive Director of ATAA Charitable Investment Fund, emphasized that the hackathon aims to highlight solutions and assistive tools to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, and how to employ them to improve their quality of life, achieve inclusion and independence in the workplace, and provide future insights, services, and innovative creative solutions to overcome the challenges faced by persons with disabilities.

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Since the fundamental principle in the rights-based approach is "Nothing about us without us," the requirement of including persons with disabilities as team members is essential to provide appropriate and suitable solutions. Believing in the importance of achieving independence for persons with disabilities, ATAA Fund will contribute to the prize awarded to the winning team with an amount of EGP 200,000 to encourage them to turn their ideas and models into actual solutions to serve persons with disabilities and support them in accessing better opportunities for workplace inclusion. 

If the models prove successful, the Fund may adopt these solutions within its funded projects in the field of economic empowerment to generalize them more widely to help enable a larger number of persons with disabilities during their training and provide job opportunities for them to work independently and efficiently.

This competition is not just about winning prizes but also about creating innovative, practical, and scalable solutions that make a real difference in the lives of persons with disabilities and can transform workplaces in Egypt.

The “Vodafone’s AI Assistive Tools Hackathon” is a significant step towards achieving the Egyptian vision of providing a more inclusive and accessible digital environment for all by empowering persons with disabilities through technology-based solutions.

This competition contributes to the USAID Economic Governance Activity's overall objective of improving Egypt's investment climate.  Funded by USAID as part of the bilateral agreement between the Government of Egypt and the United States, the project supports the investment climate in Egypt by strengthening economic governance reform, improving the capacity of public institutions, and developing and implementing new models for service delivery in line with Egypt's Sustainable Development Strategy 2030, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2023-2030, and administrative reform vision in Egypt. 

By supporting the Government of Egypt in adopting more inclusive and efficient tools that meet the needs and priorities of citizens and the private sector, the project contributes to a positive investment climate in Egypt.