Lumbidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporter
THE feeling of finishing a code of a certain application, and watching the computer “live” in the way you pre-determined is unbelievable, and it made Mr Tendai Gatahwa fall in love with the cyber world at a tender age.
The adrenalin rush that comes with formulating a concept in one’s mind and nurturing it to reality in the form of practical apps through programming turned Gatahwa into a computer geek.
While some of his peers frittered their lives away through substance abuse, he applied himself to learning the ins and outs of computer programming.
No wonder the 23-year-old, second year Computer Science student at the Midlands State University (MSU) scooped the Best Innovator Award at the ZITF Innovation Forum last week.
He is originally from Glen View 7, Harare, did his Primary level at Glen View 9 Primary School, O-level at Glen Norah 1 High, and finished his A-level majoring in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science at Glen View 1 High School.
In an interview, Mr Gatahwa said the most important aspect of computers is the ability to create them and control every part of the way they function, through programming/coding.
He said his love for coding and computers in general emanated from his taste of novels and movies when he was growing up. His passion for coding landed him in a Computer Science course at university.
“I completely fell in love with the world of computers from a very early age, because of my passion for reading science fiction novels and watching sci-fi movies and TV series, stories that were based on or soaked in computers, robots, spaceships with a central intelligence (mostly speaking) units.
All this led me to study computer science at university because I knew that the continuous development of software/hardware components will gradually change the way we live, do business, and perform tasks.
What I later discovered is that it did all that but much faster than I thought and expected. Now, I continue to follow the incredible growth of computers, computer networks, and the Internet, and I try to be always involved,” he said.
Mr Gatahwa shared how his coding adventure and talent grew to become recognised in the society. He started coding Runescape private servers when he was in form 3.
Then I heard about unity, and because unity script is similar to JS I was able to quickly create a dumb game. Finally, I decided that creating games is not actually my thing, and started exploring more about Artificial Intelligence (AI)
“I started python programming just after finishing my lower sixth form. After that I started some free IBM courses in fundamentals of artificial intelligence.
Well after I had an appreciation of that I attended a conference on Blockchain technology and I was hooked. I started looking more into decentralised technology and how it has an impact on our day-to-day living. I started looking more and started taking some classes on Udemy,” he said.
He said during the gap year between A-level and University admission, he learnt a lot about the modern technology of AI and Decentralised Systems.
In his first year at MSU, he became the leader of the team that participated in the Student Cluster Building Competition which was hosted by the Zimbabwe Centre of Higher Performance Computing where they came second after being defeated by UZ by 0,5 points.
That made them more determined and focused as a team, leading to the innovation of an app which got people talking after winning at the ZITF.
“After that defeat, our university incubated us at the Incubation Hub where we developed a decentralised E-Business App. It is meant for SMEs to manage their business to scale up in business. We integrated it with an AI Model that does sales trends after a specified period of time. We then attended the ZITF Innovation Forum where we presented our product and came out first.
We also participated in a hackathon challenge and we developed a completely decentralised supply chain system. At the end of the ZITF, I was named the best innovator,” he said in a tone a proud parent would use to talk about the achievements of their favourite child.
He said this is the beginning of something big as he is still young. He said he wants to make Zimbabwe a better place and more exciting place to live in. With the confidence born of years of preparation, Mr Gatahwa said his vision is to create a technological empire in Zimbabwe through offering decentralised systems and AI models suited for businesses.
“I had a feeling and acknowledgment of a job well done and justification for the agony, the self-doubt, and the hard work that we went through in the development of the project. This award made us feel proud, happy, overwhelmed and delighted. It gave me validation and boosted my confidence,” said Mr Gatahwa.
He said the app is not yet on the market as it is still undergoing some evaluations, but their biggest vision is to create a decentralised ecosystem in hospitals, governmental services, insurance, and other essential services.