NAIROBI. – Africa’s young and growing working-age population has been identified as the force that, if properly harnessed, will propel the continent’s technological growth. During an event held in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday to honor technology students, speakers said that in order to remain competitive in the job market, it is vital for African youth to acquire new tech skills as they are their most valuable asset of the continent.
They spoke at the awards ceremony of the seventh Africa Tech Challenge competition sponsored by Aviation Industry Corporation of China Limited in partnership with the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi.
Speaking to attendees during the awards ceremony in the Kenyan capital, Zhou Meifen, cultural adviser at the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi, said the competition is significant because it is a way to reduce unemployment through skills transfer.
She welcomed the expansion of the program since its launch in 2014 to 248 institutions with an outreach in 10 African countries. Zhou also pledged the Chinese government’s support in increasing the number of scholarships awarded to students of the program to study in China.
The seventh season of the technology challenge saw 259 participants from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Egypt, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with the top six teams winning numerous prizes. This year’s competition, titled ‘Borderless Innovation’, focused on the rapidly evolving construction industry, particularly the design component. 65 teams from 45 schools took part in the competition.
At the awards ceremony, Xu Fei, AVIC vice president for East and Central Africa, said the competition has made a comeback after a hiatus in the 2020/2021 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This season’s training was conducted online via an AVIC online learning platform. After successfully completing the online training, the participants are given interview opportunities for internships or jobs. This is in addition to the scholarships for further studies at top institutions in China,” said Xu.
He added that over the past six years, AVIC has dedicated resources to equipping African youth with basic skills for the modern job market by providing training and equipping technological facilities with the latest machines.
Ezekiel Machogu, Kenya’s education minister, expressed pride in his ministry’s partnership with the Africa Tech Challenge program and encouraged more Chinese companies to invest in upskilling African youth to boost employment and entrepreneurship.
“The Africa Tech Challenge has been instrumental in equipping our technical and vocational education and training facilities, which have started manufacturing machine spare parts, some of which have been exported to China,” Machogu said.
“We welcome more participants from the private sector, including Chinese investors, to take part in programs like the Africa Tech Challenge, which not only create jobs but equip our young people with the skills needed to become entrepreneurs by empowering companies through the skills they acquire open.”
The overall prize of this year’s competition went to the Luyanzi Institute of Technology from Uganda. – ChinaDaily.com