Forty-nine African students have been awarded after they emerged winners of Africa Technology Challenge (ATC) Season 8, a contest initiated and sponsored by AVIC International, a Chinese company.
The eighth season of ATC, which began in July, consisted of 83 teams formed by 332 participants drawn from Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe who were training on CNC lathe machining as well as mechanical drawings and CAD software application.
Rigathi Gachagua, Kenya’s deputy president who graced the awarding event Thursday, lauded AVIC International for the contest because it plays a key role in enhancing the technical skills of students pursuing technical courses in Kenya. “The skills being learned by the students will help the country in reducing the level of unemployment and reduce the poverty index in the country through cultivating the spirit of entrepreneurship as a way of encouraging innovation among youth in the country,” Gachagua said Thursday evening in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
The ATC is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) youth empowerment project by AVIC International that was launched in 2014 and has so far benefited 1,292 participants from 10 African countries.
Gachagua lauded the competition which he said lays a strong emphasis on youth-driven information communication technology (ICT) potential to support new-age industries that leverage innovations in artificial intelligence, robotics and other technologies that enhance Kenya’s productivity and competitiveness.
Esther Muoria, principal secretary of the State Department for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Ministry of Education, said that the contest is an important tool because it conveys outcomes of a good TVET system. Muoria added that the competition has emerged as a vehicle for raising awareness as well as informing Kenyans of the diversity of opportunities that may result from advancing skills development.
Technical and vocational education plays a crucial role in equipping youth with the skills and knowledge needed to drive innovation and economic prosperity through industrialization and modernization. She observed that the ATC aims to enhance the use of equipment provided by technical institutions as well as the entrepreneurial culture in TVET institutions.
Xu Fei, vice president of AVIC International Project Engineering Company, said that the competition has impacted the knowledge and skills of African students on how to design and manufacture mechanical parts that are needed for industrial processes. Xu noted that his organization is keen to share with Africa the expertise it has acquired over the years in cultivating technical skills in the continent.
China’s cooperation with Kenya in the technical and vocational education sector has already begun to yield positive results through joint projects and knowledge sharing that have up-skilled the local labor force.
Victor Ngumbau Mue, who took first place in the CNC lathe machining individual category, said that he was grateful to participate in the ATC contest because it provided him with a platform to interact and understand modern engineering equipment. The student at the Technical University of Kenya, who also won a scholarship to study in China, hopes to use the training he will acquire in the Asian nation to help drive Kenya’s industrialization aspirations.
John Takudzwa Kamutimbe, a student at Harare Polytechnic in Zimbabwe who emerged second overall in the CNC lathe machining individual category, attributed his success to teamwork and mentorship from his instructors. The 24-year-old who is currently pursuing a diploma in mechanical engineering and won a scholarship to study in China praised the contest because it focused on practical skills that are relevant to Africa’s job market. Enditem