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Meet the Ugandan Techies Behind StartRight

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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Martin Lubowa and Moreen Irungu are two tech enthusiasts from Uganda who clinched the second prize of 1000 euros for coming up with Project StartRight during the Tunga AI Hackathon held in November 2023.

Meet the Techies

Moreen is a student at African University, Mutare, Kenya. She is a medical laboratory science professional who focused primarily on Python and R, when she contributed her skills to the collaborative effort with Martin that bagged them the Hackathon prize.

Her professional dedication lies in bioinformatics, where she explores the intersection of technology and public health outcomes, aiming to enhance the overall well-being of communities.

A graduate of the African Leadership Academy, Martin Lubowa is driven by a passion for amalgamating entrepreneurship with the education and healthcare sectors in Africa. As the co-founder and managing director of the Africa Students Support Network (AFRISSUN), a community-based non-profit organization in Uganda, Martin goes beyond offering scholarships for disadvantaged students.

Martins Lubowa

AFRISSUN, under his leadership, equips young leaders with essential soft skills to navigate the challenges of the 21st-century working world. Martin has spearheaded numerous charity drives, mobilizing resources for underserved communities, resulting in over $6000 in funds raised to support students through programs like Afrischolarship, Afrileadership, Afro-opportunity, and Love Outreach.

As the Chief Executive Director of Ethical Youth Company and the head of the action team for the Uganda Red Cross Society, Martin is deeply committed to humanitarian efforts.

Together, Martin and Moreen are the masterminds behind StartRight, an AI tool designed to simplify the process for engineers embarking on new projects, streamlining the setup of their systems. Their combined expertise and commitment to innovation showcase during the Hackathon depicts their significant contributions to the tech world.

During an initial hackathon in 2022, Martin Lubowa and Moreen Irungu teamed up on a USSD application for health education. This collaboration, sparked by mentor Kalebu G, propelled them into the world of AI exploration, and they have since engaged in numerous initiatives, using their diverse technological and skill sets.

A versatile full-stack software and AI/ML engineer, Martin adeptly navigates Python, Django, Flask, JavaScript, Node, PHP, Laravel, Rust-Actix, Docker, Kubernetes, PyTorch, and TensorFlow. Currently, he uses his expertise in a telemedicine firm in Cameroon, aiming to extend healthcare accessibility to millions in the Sahel region.

Bioinformatician Moreen, wielding R and Python, channels her skills towards a steadfast commitment to advancing public health outcomes through technology.

Journey to Tunga AI Hackathon

The duo’s journey to the Tunga AI Hackathon began when Martin, inspired by their mentor, shared the opportunity he stumbled upon on LinkedIn with Moreen. Intrigued, they decided to embark on the challenge. In the days leading up to the hackathon, the concept for StartRight took shape, and the duo invested significant mental and intellectual preparations into their upcoming endeavor.

Tunga- Picture Source: Instagram

The development phase proved to be both demanding and immersive for Martin Lubowa and Moreen Irungu. Fully committed to the project, they found sleep becoming a luxury as they navigated through the intricate and time-intensive processes of automating project folders, files, dependencies, configurations, and documentation using AI. In their pursuit of enhancing features and functionalities, they seamlessly integrated various APIs and services.

Their dedication and innovative approach captured the judges’ attention, earning them accolades for their creative idea. Despite the challenges, they successfully completed and submitted their assignment within the stipulated timeframe.

The judges not only praised their efforts but also provided valuable recommendations for improvement. The joy of securing second place was not just a testament to their skills but also a recognition of the opportunity to showcase their abilities and originality in the competitive arena.

Inspiration Behind StartRight

When questioned about the inspiration behind StartRight, Moreen asserted that its inception stems from a shared understanding of the challenges developers encounter at the beginning of new projects.

The frustration tied to the intricate setup process fueled the vision to create a tool that not only brings joy to developers’ lives but also positively influences the broader developer community.

Next Phase After the Tunga Hackathon

Looking ahead, Moreen outlined the group’s next phase, emphasizing the commitment to refine and enhance StartRight based on invaluable feedback received from the Tunga community.

The plan includes the incorporation of features such as Task Discovery and Thought Prompting, Advanced Test Tooling & UX Agent, Web Search Functionality, Language Model Support, Additional Language Support, and the creation of a Web Interface for non-techies.

Immediate plans involve prototyping the current version with developers and companies. To achieve these ambitious goals, mentorship and support are sought, with a particular emphasis on obtaining GPT-4 credits for improving prototypes.

Recognizing the transformative potential of AI in uplifting communities, bridging gaps, and addressing global challenges, the group advocates for the wise, ethical, and purpose-driven use of this powerful technology. Their commitment reflects a broader vision of harnessing AI for positive societal impact.

Moreen went further to share her advice for AI enthusiasts, she said “As enthusiasts and contributors to the AI realm, we recognize the profound responsibility that comes with our passion. AI has the transformative power to uplift communities, bridge gaps, and address global challenges. We advocate for the wise, ethical, and purpose-driven use of this power. Martin aptly notes that AI is providing a leveled ground for global competition, emphasizing the need for governments and key stakeholders to embrace this opportunity. We are currently in the “Spring of the AI revolution”, and the urgency to adapt and participate is paramount to avoid being left behind. We call for collective support to ensure that AI learning resources are accessible to all developers, thereby fostering a collaborative and inclusive AI community.

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Peremoboere Numa
Peremoboere Numa

Pere is a versatile SEO writer with a Master's degree in English, who is dedicated to creating engaging and impactful content.

She excels in weaving content that not only informs, enlightens and impacts but but also optimize its online presence to rank on major web sites.

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